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Population Genetics, Autism Research Centre to Study Asperger Variants

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Population Genetics Technologies said today that it has partnered with the University of Cambridge's Autism Research Centre to study variants in two genes that previously have been associated with Asperger syndrome.

Population Genetics will use its Reflex technology to conduct genetic analysis of mouth swab samples collected from 1,000 people, with half of the samples coming from people with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome, and half from a control group.

Under the collaboration, the Cambridge, UK-based company will retain the rights to commercialize any biomarkers discovered during the project, the results of which are due this year. Further terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

"Most genetic studies have focused on classic autism but the genetics of high-functioning autism may yield valuable insights because these are individuals who do not have associated learning disability or language delays," ARC Director Simon Baron-Cohen said in a statement. This project will enable the researchers to test previous findings about how these genes are associated with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome.

Population Genetics said that the ARC is currently conducting a number of studies focused on finding out if these SNPs in candidate genes differ in frequency between patients with Asperger or autism and control groups.