Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Researchers have identified autism-related genes that include genes involved in cancer by using a computational technique that shows how genes interact.
Autism spectrum disorder involves a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, and includes conditions such as autism and Asperger's syndrome. Autism has a significant genetic component with thousands of genetic differences between some people with ASD and those without.
Italian researchers used a new technique that accounts for how genes interact to identify new networks of related genes that may be involved in ASD genes related to cancer.
The study, published today in Frontiers in Genetics, analyzed genes that previous studies have associated with ASD and used a different database that listed interactions between different proteins to narrow the list of genes down further.
The team then used a computational technique known as network diffusion to identify networks of genes that are interrelated through their connection to ASD genes and found that some of the ASD genes were involved with conditions found occurring with ASD such as psychiatric disorders, epilepsy and unexpectedly cancer.
The researchers say the computational method they devised can be applied to other sets of data, with the it could help predict genes involved in the development of other conditions.
"We hope that global gene databases will continue to grow, allowing scientist to share and reuse these types of data, and we will update our model as more ASD risk genes are discovered," Ettore Mosca, a post-doctoral researcher involved in the study, said in a press release.