The webinar explored emerging concepts in basic reproductive biology and also the heritability of ASDs. We know that autism is highly heritable, in the sense that ASD risk is higher among siblings, but it's not shown to be highly "genetic" in the classic sense that these traits or genes are passed from generation to generation.
To probe what might lie underneath these observations, we felt it important to take a multidisciplinary approach, starting with the complicated biology of germ cells themselves. The unique molecular biology and particular vulnerabilities of the early germline may inform the risk of the "de novo" events we see in autism. By de novo we mean genetic and epigenetic changes arising in the parents' egg or sperm, but not seen in the parents themselves.
This effort only scratched the surface of this vast and rapidly developing subject matter, but, we hope it will prompt deeper thinking about autism genetics and inspire further research that may help to connect the dots.
Watch the webinar here.