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autistic disorder

By Molika Ashford Advocacy group Autism Speaks has announced a partnership with Chinese genomics institute BGI to sequence the whole genomes of 10,000 individuals in families of children with autism spectrum disorder.

The work is part of the European Union's £6.99 million DENAMIC research project, which aims to develop tools for monitoring the neurotoxic effects of environmental pollutants on the cognitive skills and development of children.

Stemina will study brain cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells created from patients with autism, compared to the same cells from age-matched children without autism.

The research could prove useful in classifying autism patients according to functional pathways and protein interactions, ultimately enabling more effective development and targeting of therapies for the disorder.

Through transcriptomic analyses on post-mortem brain samples, researchers have identified shared expression features in autistic brains that differ from those in individuals who don't have the condition.

The study, which sequenced the exomes of 20 patients with sporadic autism spectrum disorder and their parents, found mutations in some of the same genes that have been implicated in other neuropsychiatric disorders.

The newly named Washington University Genome Institute intends to move beyond research-oriented sequencing projects and toward those with a clinical bent.

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