Dyslexia is known to run in families – partly
because of genetic factors – but, until now, little was known about the
specific genes that relate to the risk of it developing. Scientists have for
the first time pinpointed a large number of genes that are reliably associated
with dyslexia. Around a third of the 42 genetic variants identified have been
previously linked to general cognitive ability and educational attainment.

The researchers say their findings, published
in Nature Genetics journal, aid our understanding of the biology behind why
some children struggle to read or spell. This latest study involved more than
50,000 adults who have been diagnosed with dyslexia and more than one million
adults who have not.

Researchers tested the association between
millions of genetic variants with dyslexia status and found 42 significant
variants. Some of these are associated with other neurodevelopment conditions,
such as language delay, and with thinking skills and academic achievement.
Many, however, are novel and could represent genes that more specifically
associate with processes essential for learning to read.

Many of the genes associated with dyslexia are
also associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A much smaller
overlap of the genes associated with dyslexia was found for psychiatric,
lifestyle and health conditions.

Several of the associated genetic variants
were also significant in a Chinese speaking sample suggesting that there are
general cognitive processes in learning to read that are not dependent on the
type of language.

Researchers say they were able to predict how
well children and adults from four other research studies can read and spell
using the genetic information from the study, but not with the accuracy needed
for diagnostic use.

Reference:

Michelle Luciano et al,JOURNAL

Nature Genetics

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