Turkish scientists discover a new gene tied to autism A GROUP of Turkish scientists ha ve identified a new gene named the "SLC7A5" one of the causes behind autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a disorder seen one in every 68 children. The newly identified gene provides a ray of hope for the treatments of attention deficiency, hyperactivity and epilepsy. Associate Professor Ahmet Okay Çağlayan, the head of the Medical Genetic Department at İstanbul Bilim University, and his team discovered that a cure is possible for patients with ASD and those born out of a consanguineous marriage following a series of experiments on mice. Çağlayan said they have received an early diagnosis for two children from Turkey and Libya with ASD, which helped them during the trials. "We started the study four years ago at Yale University. A family from Libya and Turkey whose children suffer from ASD applied to our department. During this period, we conducted functional studies to identify the gene that causes autism, its effects and how to detect it. In our studies we discovered that a gene codes a protein that works in the blood-brain barrier and the amino acids, which are necessary for mental development, are not transferred to the brain and developmental defects come out. By identifying this gene, there is a hope for a cure for patients who have defects in this gene," Çağlayan said. As a result of the experiments conducted on adult mice, the scientists discovered that it is possible to administer the treatment not only to children but to adults as well. Çağlayan said, "We know that the earlier we diagnosed our patients with autism, the betvveen result we get; however, in our experiments, we discovered that adult mice that suffer from this specific defect also get better. This is very promising." He further said patients with ASD should also consult with a medical genetic expert and advised parents to consult to a gene specialist.
İSTANBUL / İHA