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Scientists discover 27 genes associated with Asperger's, autistic traits and empathy

posted 26 May 2012, 00:47 by Jan Szafranski   [ updated 26 May 2012, 00:47 ]
Scientists from the University of Cambridge have identified 27 genes that are associated with either Asperger’s syndrome (AS) and/or autistic traits and/or empathy. The research which was published in the journal Autism Research, is the first candidate gene study of its kind. The research was led by Dr Bhismadev Chakrabarti and Professor Simon Baron-Cohen from ARC in Cambridge. 

68 genes were chosen either because they were known to play a role in neural growth, social behaviour, or sex steroid hormones (e.g. testosterone and estrogen). The latter group of genes was included because AS occurs far more often in males than females, and because previous research from the Cambridge team has shown that foetal testosterone levels are associated with autistic traits and empathy in typically developing children.