Researchers Uncovered Genetic Signal Common to Autism and Cerebral Palsy


Researchers uncovered a genetic signal common to autism and cerebral palsy, according to a study published on May 10, 2018.

This study was conducted by the researchers at the University of Adelaide. The findings of the study was obtained from the first large-scale study of gene expression in children with cerebral palsy. The researchers from the University’s Australian Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Research Group in the Robinson Research Institute also showed common underlying molecular pathways in clinically diverse cerebral palsy. According to them, both the findings add significantly to the weight of evidence for underlying genetic causes of cerebral palsy.

In this study, new RNA sequencing technology was used by the researchers for measuring the gene messengers (RNA) in cells from children with cerebral palsy. They studied cell lines from 182 individuals with cerebral palsy and found that many showed disruption of cell signaling and inflammatory pathways, similar to the ones observed in some children with autism.

Dr. van Eyk said, “The results showed that the neurological or signalling pathways being disrupted in children with cerebral palsy overlap with those disruptions seen in autism. This supports a common biological change in both cerebral palsy and autism. Autism and cerebral palsy do sometimes co-exist, which further underlines common causation in some individuals.” By using this data and the existing DNA sequencing results, the proportion of individuals with a likely genetic cause can be increased to around 25%.

The University’s Cerebral Palsy Research Group is led by Emeritus Professor Alastair MacLennan and Professor Jozef Gecz, Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation Chair for the Prevention of Childhood Disability. They are leading the world in discovering an increasing genetic basis to cerebral palsy.


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