Thursday, October 1, 2009

Autism's Genetic Roots Examined in New Government-Funded Study

Researchers at Harvard University and Children's Hospital Boston will sequence the genomes of at least 85 people diagnosed with autism in a bid to tease out the genetic basis for some cases of the neuropsychiatric disorder.
Funded by $4.5 million from the federal stimulus package, the study's broad outlines were unveiled Wednesday.
The study's first phase will focus on 85 autistic patients from the Middle East. All have a recessive form of autism, and all are linked by common ancestry. Studying this unique population, researchers have already narrowed the hunt for the common genetic mutation they share to an area that represents just 1% of their genome.
The Boston researchers hope to extend their genomic analyses beyond the 85 Middle Easterners to include American families as they refine their gene-hunting techniques.

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