May 20, 2015 8:22 pm
Updated: May 20, 2015 9:18 pm

Alberta researchers search for genetic cause of stuttering


WATCH: An Alberta team is building a DNA database to try and learn more about stuttering. Heather Yourex reports.

CALGARY- Alberta researchers are collecting DNA samples from people who stutter in an effort to learn more about the genetics of stuttering.

Stuttering is a speech motor control disorder that impacts one per cent of the population.  There is no cure and its cause is unknown.

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“What we’re doing is collecting saliva samples from people who stutter. And what we can do with those samples is extract the DNA from those samples, and then ultimately analyze that DNA by sequencing the genome,” said Deryk Beal, executive director for the University of Alberta’s Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR).

Thirteen-year-old Josh Ukrainetz is one of 150 people who have submitted samples so far. Ukrainetz was diagnosed with a stutter when he was just three years old; today he manages his condition with therapy and a lot of practice. He hopes this research will one day lead to a cure.

“My stutter is quite mild compared to a lot of other people’s stutters, so if mine’s not that bad and I can help other people improve their stutters… it’s worth it.”

Funding for the actual DNA analysis of the samples has not yet be secured. When funding is found, the analysis will be done at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The ISTAR team is still collecting DNA samples from people with stutters. For more information or if you’re interested in participating, e-mail

© 2015 Shaw Media

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