Dyslexia gene: New study finds links to genetic variants reportedly responsible for condition

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Scientists believe they have discovered 42 of the genetic variants responsible for causing dyslexia in children and adults, according to new research.

A new breakthrough in genetic research from the University of Edinburgh, commissioned by Nature Genetics (a peer-reviewed scientific journal that focuses on the study of genetics), has led scientists to believe they have pinpointed the 42 genes that are responsible for causing dyslexia. Dyslexia is a condition that makes reading and spelling more difficult and affects roughly a tenth of the world’s population.

The research involved around 500,000 adults who had dyslexia and roughly a million who did not. DNA samples were taken from both groups of people and compared to identify any key patterns.

Of the 42 genes that were identified, only 15 had been previously linked to cognitive defects. The remaining 27 had never previously been linked to people with dyslexia.

The research seems to indicate that the primary cause of dyslexia is through genetic makeup. It appears to be hereditary, as opposed to being a condition that individuals can develop.

In the UK, dyslexia affects around 6.3 million people. Of these, around a fifth are severely affected by the condition.

Additionally, there were also parallels drawn between the genetic makeup of people with dyslexia and people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, this does not mean that everyone who has dyslexia also has ADHD.

Michelle Luciano, the leader of the research who is a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and a genetics expert, said: "Our findings show that common genetic differences have very similar effects in boys and girls, and that there is a genetic link between dyslexia and ambidexterity.

“Our results also suggest that dyslexia is very closely genetically related to performance on reading and spelling tests, reinforcing the importance of standardised testing in identifying dyslexia. Our study was much more powerful than these previous ones, so the results are more reliable."

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