Largest ever study on genetics and autism aims to advance personalized approach to treatment


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Scientists funded by the Simons Foundation Research Initiative announced the launch of an online project that aims to gather DNA and other information from 50,000 people with autism and their family members.

Although the cause of the social communication disorder is unknown and believed to be a mix of environmental and genetic factors, scientists have identified some 50 to 70 genes that may play a role in the condition. Some estimate that a total of 350 or more could be involved.

The long-term study involves researchers from more than 21 medical institutions, including Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Weill Cornell Medicine.


Autism diagnoses have risen in the United States at a high pace, and a survey this year estimated that one out of 45 children ages 3 to 17 have the condition. The issue has strained state and federal resources for special needs and created whole industries of companies catering to interventions and therapies.

Joseph Piven, who is co-leading the team at UNC-Chapel Hill, said the initiative would help accelerate an era of personalized medicine for people with the condition. He said the data from the study could be used to “guide targeted treatment research based on a patient’s genetic analysis.”

Read full, original post: Researchers have launched the world’s largest study on autism and genes. You can participate, too. 

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