Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Even More Evidence to Suggest Autism is Genetic

Back in July I wrote a post that pointed to a few studies which suggested Autism is primarily caused by a genetic component but also to a smaller degree can be brought on my environmental factors.  In one of those studies the environmental factor examined was usage of antidepressants, which were found to have an effect if a women took them during pregnancy.

It seems that the subject of Autism is a hot topic right now, because I have just reviewed several additional studies on the subject all of which show a strong genetic component to Autism as well.  These studies were all published in the journal Neuron on June 9th, 2011.

The first study is entitled "Rare De Novo and Transmitted Copy-Number Variation in Autistic Spectrum Disorders".

The second study is entitled "Multiple Recurrent De Novo CNVs, Including Duplications of the 7q11.23 Williams Syndrome Region, Are Strongly Associated with Autism".

The third study is entitled "Rare De Novo Variants Associated with Autism Implicate a Large Functional Network of Genes Involved in Formation and Function of Synapses".

These studies were all performed in collaboration with the Simmons Simplex Collection (SSC) which is a core project and resource of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI).  SFARI is a private organization involved in multiple aspects of Autism research and contains a Scientific Advisory Board which is filled with prestigious doctors and scientists from Universities such as Columbia, MIT, Duke, and Harvard.  Obviously if you wish to know more about them I urge you to review their website, but I mention it here because vaccine conspiracy theorists tend to ignore any data that has any connection to the CDC, FDA, WHO, or any other government agency, thus I thought it fitting to mention who SFARI is to ensure it is clear they are not just another rubber-stamping government agency.

The bottom line is these are reputable peer-reviewed scientific studies which point to a strong genetic link to Autism.  I realize that the concept of peer-reviewed science is often difficult for a vaccine conspiracy theorist like Lowell Hubbs to understand, but the bottom line is these are three different studies all of which have been published in a very reputable journal, and as much as Mr. Hubbs may like to pretend Neuron is somehow biased or is nothing more than a shill for "big pharma" or the vaccine industry, I'm afraid that isn't the case.

I suppose Mr. Hubbs will simply discredit these studies by suggesting all of the authors and members of Neuron's editorial board are biased or that they have been paid off etc, but when you consider there are over 100 experts on the editorial board, and several dozen authors not to mention the scientific editors, managing editors, reviewing editors as well as various directors and manages involved... well that seems like quite the conspiracy theory to suggest that all of these people are somehow in on the little shell game.

So what do these studies tell us?  Well according to John Timmer over at ARS Technica, the two studies that examined CNVs (copy number variations) "...found slightly different numbers, but the same general trend: new CNVs (deletions or duplications that are not present in either parent) are much more common in autistic children than they are in their unaffected siblings. One study found that they showed up 3.4 times more often; the other showed 3.9 times. In either case, there were many more changes in the dose of genes among autistic individuals. Moreover, most of these changes are rare, showing up in only one or a few individuals. This low frequency implies that, with a larger population, even rarer CNVs would be uncovered. The statistics are such that the authors estimate that there may be several hundred potential sites in the genome that could be linked to autism."

Timmer goes on to explain that the third study focuses upon what these CVNs do which primarily surrounds the formation of synapses etc in the brain.  This helps understand what the effects of Autism actually are and could potentially lead to additional research to counteract those effects down the road.

Now it needs to be stated that these studies are not suggesting Autism is always caused by a genetic component, and they even go on to state that there can be environmental influences.  However it is clear that as more and more research is performed, it seems the common conclusion is the genetic component which means those that tend to blame vaccines for Autism (such as our very own Lowell Hubbs along with the long discredited Andrew Wakefield as well as pseudo-celebrity Jenny McCarthy) are looking more and more like the fools they are each and every time a new study is released.

So how many peer-reviewed studies have been published thus far which have been able to even so much as identify a link between vaccines and autism?  Once again... the answer remains zero. 

Science wins.  Vaccine conspiracy theorists lose.  Again.

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