Italian genetic dyslexia breakthrough for early diagnosis

Study spearheaded by Research Council neuroscience Institute

(ANSA) - Rome, May 28 - Thanks to a genetic marker, an Italian study is expected to allow speedy diagnosis of a form of dyslexia caused by alteration in the DCDC2 gene, which disturbs vision, researchers said Wednesday.
    The study was carried out by Guido Marco Cicchini of the Institute of neurosciences of the National Research Council (In-Cnr) in Pisa and Maria Concetta Morrone of the University of Pisa in collaboration with Daniela Perani of the Health-Life University San Raffaele of Milan and Sara Mascheretti of Ircss Medea.
    "Until today dyslexia was diagnosed only when noticed a learning delay and other causes are excluded," said Cicchini, "this slows things down any form of intervention a lot, sometimes for years." "To discover a genetic and physiological marker changes radically the perspective - in future diagnosing this kind of dyslexia could be much simpler and earlier".
    The Dcdc2 is part of a restricted family of genes linked to dyslexia. It already is known that 20% of dyslexics have an alteration in Dcdc2, but the role of the gene until now remained murky.
    In the research that appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience, the authors examined a group of dyslexics with an alteration in the gene, showing that they are blind to some visual stimuli which normally are more visible for normal people.
    "These dyslexic people see correctly the form or orientation of an object, but if forced to indicate the direction in which certain stimulants move they choose randomly," said Morrone.
    "Luckily this deficit is present only for some types of stimulus and therefore the impact on daily life is limited, but in some cases it may not be like that -- for example the direction of a pedestrian or a bicycle may not be perceived".
    "We are faced with a particular sub-type of dyslexia that it would be desirable to recognise and treat in a specific manner in the first years of life and the genetic can help to select it at a very young age, when rehabilitating therapies are more effective".


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