Those with both rare and common types of autism spectrum disorder share a similar set of epigenetic modifications in the brain, according to a study. More than 68% of individuals with different types of autism spectrum disorder show evidence of the same pattern of a chemical modification of the protein scaffold around which DNA wraps. The findings suggest that a single global epigenetic pattern affecting shared molecular pathways in the brain could underlie diverse manifestations of this psychiatric disease.
“We find epigenetic changes that are present in most patients with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD,” says co-senior study author Shyam Prabhakar of the Genome Institute of Singapore. “This suggests that, despite tremendous heterogeneity in the primary causes of autism, such as DNA mutations and environmental perturbations during development, ASD has molecular features that are commonly shared. It is encouraging that ASD has common molecular changes, because this opens up the possibility of designing drugs to correct these changes.”
Various genetic and environmental factors are known to contribute to ASD. Many studies have focused on structural changes to the genome or DNA sequence variants in protein-coding genes, but these mutations are rare and account for only a small fraction of cases. As a result, scientists have proposed that epigenetic modifications — changes in gene activity that do not affect the DNA sequence — play an important role in ASD. However, many epigenetic studies have focused on a chemical modification of DNA known as methylation, ignoring other important changes that could affect the activity of genes implicated in psychiatric disease.
In the new study, Prabhakar and co-senior study author Daniel Geschwind of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, explored the potential role of histone acetylation in ASD. Paper. (public access) More.
It’s curious how much harm was done in the name of eugenics (genetic fundamentalism, really), due to a belief in exclusively Darwinian inheritance. Wouldn’t it be the ultimate plot twist if many disease-related issues are epigenetic? As in, all those years of Darwinist lecturers ridiculing Lamarck just put everyone off the track?
See also: A much less useful paper for understanding autism: Study: Change in morality 100 kya enabled autism sufferers to integrate into society
It’s true that some autists might help the tribe by becoming specialists. But many autists do not possess even normal life skills. Morality would, however, mean that even they were not murdered or exiled. Whence the sudden attack of morality?
Epigenetics: Aeon writer says Darwin’s theory is “incomplete” There is no question that the integration would help. But more than fine words are needed. As long as Darwin’s thugs are allowed to dominate, we’ll still be here in twenty years. We know what’s true, but is it on the courses? In the textbooks?
Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!
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