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philosopher's avatar

Are there any researchers here? Do you find gene research fascinating?

Asked by philosopher (9145points) December 20th, 2012

This is amazing. It has me shaking with hope. I pray for their success as quickly as possible.
Maybe we can have a cure or help without medications in my lifetime.
I would like to hear what anyone who does research thinks. What we can expect in the near future?
I am a positive person and I believe that this research will help autistic people.
See link.

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7 Answers

Shippy's avatar

Yes I did enjoy Genetic Research, the limited studies I did in Psych. However, I don’t mind most of my illnesses they kinda made me who I am today. (Well that’s debatable if it’s a good or bad thing).

wundayatta's avatar

A cure? I doubt it. At least, not in adults. Possibly in embryos.

Finding the genes involved is one thing. And in this case, we see that 100s are already involved, and they expect more. The more genes involved, the more complex the process, and the greater the difficulty of treatment.

Identifying genes is only the first step. You then have to figure out what the genes do. Then you have to figure out how they interact with each other. It’s a lot of work, and the more genes there are, the more complex the process is, the harder it is to figure out where you want to intervene. If you want to intervene at all.

I believe genetic variation is a useful thing. We make people normal at our risk. It’s like monoculture horticulture. You make everything into a very high performing plant, and you do real well until a diseases comes along that knocks out that plant, and you have nothing like it to stand in its place.

Autism is good for us as a species. It clearly produces people who are very good at some narrow areas of endeavor. Do we want to get rid of those talents? I don’t think so.

There is a similar endeavor going on to track down the genetic roots of my disorder—bipolar disorder. But here we have a problem again. If we get rid of bipolar, we may get rid of the talents that some folks with bipolar exhibit, and that will be bad for us all. It may b e a high risk, high reward scenario. You never know what crazy people will do. They might kill a lot of people. But they also might come up with the invention that saves the planet.

One fifth of bipolar folks die by their own hand. But some of them are brilliant and put out great works of art, or other types of work before they die. And some don’t die of suicide. Ask people with autism when they are grown up if they would have rather grown up normal, and a good portion will tell you to leave them alone. They like being the way they are.

bookish1's avatar

Wow, what he said ^

I was in a long term relationship with someone who was autistic, and she did not view it as a disease or disorder, but just the way her brain is wired. And I have met a number of other autistic spectrum people who feel this same way. Not every one of them is hankering for a ‘cure.’ As with transsexual people, the problem is societal ignorance and intolerance, not something inherently wrong in the individual.

I am pretty wary of the search for ‘cures’ for neurotypes… They are a different matter than organ or organ system diseases.

BhacSsylan's avatar

I’m a biochemist, and do gene manipulation quite regularly. The current focus of my studies is the B-Cell Lymphoma 2 gene family which is one of the ones that gets heavily manipulated in many cancers as well as a huge host of other diseases and conditions, Autism included (though that link is currently tenuous). In general, pretty much what @wundayatta said. Gene research is incredibly complicated. I’m going to have spent most of my grad school career on figuring out a part of what about 12 members of that family do and how they do it. And that’s just the normal version of the proteins. And this protein family was discovered almost three decades ago and I still have enough work to do my thesis on.

Also, the ‘without medications’ thing is rather off. Even if we managed to make a gene therapy that actually works, that would still be a medication! We already have help without medication, it’s known as therapy and public awareness. Granted, this does not help in all cases, and more help for low-functioning autistic people would be great, and researchers are working on that as well. But we’re not going to get gene therapy for a long while yet.

And @wundayatta and @bookish1 are absolutely correct to point out that non-neurotypical does not mean “in need of fixing”. Some do need help, such as the aformentioned low-functioning individuals, violent schizophrenics (by no means all or even most schizophrenics, may i add), or those people that ask for help. But just because people are outside the norm does not mean that the need to be changed.

philosopher's avatar

I would never suggest any high functioning autistic or aspergers person be forced to have anything done to them that they oppose. I know high functioning people that I chat with. Their issues are mostly Sensory. Many are smarter than Neuro Typical people I know.
I read research all the time. On,, and other sites.
My son is mid functioning autistic. His teacher in his former school constantly told me how intelligent he is. He does well at what he likes. He does not comprehend abstract concepts. He requires structure and support. He can not care for himself and yes I pray for the day when he can function more independently. He can do some Academic work and Vocational. He can speak and I am grateful for all his progress.
I have heard of studies were Scientist use Stem Cells intravenously to repair neurons and synapses in mice. I do believe that once they know what areas to correct in may be possible in humans. Every study says, something different.
I have seen progress over the past 20 plus years.

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