photo copyright Pawel Szczesny
At Simon-Fraser University, biologist Bernard Crespi and colleagues at the Vancouver,Canada institution were able to isolate four areas from the human genome that were fundamentally different than in those without the conditions. These areas of the the human genome would present normally with two copies of the gene. In autism there is one copy, with schizophrenia presenting with extra copies.
These "copy-number" variants could be responsible for both autism and schizophrenia. Too many duplications seemed to point to schizophrenia. Too many deletions seemed to point to autism.
If this research holds up, this means that both with both conditions. research for furthering the understanding with one could possibly further the understanding of the other.
Another recent study found a link between autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
In 1998, a Dutch developmental psychologist concluded that the two conditions were connected. Citing physical characteristics, such as "protruding ears" and "peculiar toes" Annemie Ploeger summized that these conditions are formed very early in-utero.
As far back as 1991 the American Journal of Psychiatry found that a comorbidity between autism and schizophrenia was not any more frequent than that found in the general population.
The finding of the two as genetic opposites certainly raises some interesting questions.