Boston Researchers Find Key Autism Genes

This article is more than 12 years old.

Boston scientists have discovered more genes involved in autism, giving them a better understanding of how the disease affects children.

Researchers at Harvard University found that some autistic children have the right language and socialization genes, but that they're just not being used. Chris Walsh of Children's Hospital, who headed the study, says the discovery gives hope for new treatments.

"We think the fact the gene is still in there but might not be active in the right way offers the promise that if we could figure out how to get that gene turned on again, we might be able to do a much better job of treating patients with autism."

That could involve a new drug. The research might also explain why existing treatments are sometimes effective. Intensive behavioral therapy may be turning on those inactive genes.

This program aired on July 11, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.