Researchers Found Direct Link Between 'Teashirt' Genes And Children With Autiism, Kidney Problems

First Posted: Sep 28, 2016 04:43 AM EDT

Autism is becoming a growing problem around the world. Now, a new study revealed that a gene which was given the name the 'Teashirt' by those who discovered it has been found to have a direct link between children with kidney problems and autism. The study also pointed out certain implications for how doctors treating both conditions perform tests to their patients.

Medical Xpress reported that the new paper, led by the Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille together with The University of Manchester, described the effects of the mutation of Teashirt genes in people and mice. The gene, originally known as Tshz3, had already been proven by the joint team in 2008 as an important factor in the development of smooth muscles in the wall of the ureter. Researchers discovered that mutant mice were born with distended kidneys because their ureters were not successful at propelling urine down to their bladders.

The University of Manchester Profess Adrian Woolf, who used to work as a children's consultant in London, found that one of his patients who was born with abnormal kidneys had an absent Tshz3 gene. Woolf also said that the patient showed characteristics of autistic spectrum disorder. According to Science Daily, the French team also realized that mice with Tshz3 mutation did not only show signs of defective kidneys but also showed signs of learning difficulties.

These findings triggered a search for kidney clinics around the world which resulted in the discovery of 10 additional patients exhibiting similar symptoms. Results of the genetic testing confirmed that the same gene was absent in all of the 10 patients. The findings were then included in the new paper.

Professor Woolf said: "The mutant mouse kidney looks just like 'hydronephrosis', the distended kidney seen in about 1 in 1,000 individuals when they are screened by sonar scans as unborn babies. It now appears that this gene is linked to at least some of these cases and that it also has implications for how our brains work in childhood."

Meanwhile, Medical News Today reported that Professor Laurent Fasano led the research in Marseille and discovered the teashirt gene in fruit flies in 1991. He said: "The sooner the better; early detection of this new condition will favor early behavioral therapies, which is good for the kids and their family."

It is also important to note that the link between the two diseases gave suggestions for how doctors who are working with patients displaying either kidney or learning problems. Professor Woolf, a consultant at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital where he runs a renal genetics clinic, added: "A fairly simple genetic test on patients being treated for either kidney problems or autistic spectrum disorder could identify whether the Teashirt gene is missing and also highlight that the patient may need investigation for the other condition. Time will tell whether TSHZ3 plays a role in many more cases than we've currently been able to identify."

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