British scientists find dyslexia gene. (Independent 22 Feb '98). In a discovery of huge significance to thousands of parents and their children, scientists say they have proved that dyslexia is an hereditary condition.
The findings follow years of debate in which some sceptics insisted that the condition only existed in the imagination of parents.
'This discovery proves once and for all that dyslexia is hereditary' said professor John Stein of Oxford University Laboratory of Physiology. He now hopes the new findings will convince the government and local education authorities to provide more resources to help dyslexics.
The results produced by Professor Stein and Professor Tony Monaco of the Welcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford, have been revealed at a time when schools are trying to reach a series of tough targets for improving literacy.
The research was carried out by studying DNA in blood samples from 90 families containing dyslexics. Researchers found the approximate site of genes for dyslexia and made their discovery by using a new technique to mark and track the genes. The samples were taken from parents and children who both had the condition. Professor Stein found three common genes that were associated with dyslexia in most of these families.
The Oxford research confirms an earlier American study, which produced similar findings but was unable to establish such a close link.
However, the findings are being treated with scepticism in some medical quarters, where it is argued that dyslexia only exists in the middle-class imagination.
The section of chromosomes that the Oxford researchers believe is linked to dyslexic problems is close to the genes that control immunity. This suggests there may be something unusual with the mother or child's immune response and that there is a susceptibility to attacks from antibodies, which could be a cause of dyslexia.