Researchers say they have found the first piece of the genetic puzzle that could lead to greatly improved diagnosis, treatment and even prevention of autism.
A multi-university team, which included the University of Miami School of Medicine, has identified a gene associated with autism, according to a report published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed medical journal Nature.
It may be only one of as many as 50 genes involved, and environmental factors are also involved, but Margaret Pericak-Vance, director of UM's Institute for Human Genomics, says the discovery could lead to practical results within a decade.
''Things are moving so fast, in the next five years or so you can see some of this information being translated maybe into prediction, even therapies,'' she said.
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Therapies that would prevent autism are ''farther down the pike,'' she said.