Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine say they are getting closer to identifying the mechanisms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and biomarkers that can aid in early diagnosis and predictions of symptom severity.

A team of scientists analyzed blood gene expression data from 302 one- to four-year-old boys with and without the diagnosis of ASD. They uncovered a critical gene network that is disrupted in ASD, noting that the perturbed gene network is related to fetal brain development and also dysregulated in ASD cellular models.

The findings, published online September 23, 2019 in Nature Neuroscience, suggest genetic factors influencing brain development during pregnancy are a primary cause of ASD.

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