9 November 2007
New genotypic data from families affected by autism (autistic individuals plus their parents and siblings) have been released by the Autism Consortium, a US alliance that seeks to bring together families, clinicians and researchers to drive research into autism and potential treatments. It is thought that genetic factors may play a significant role in the development of autism and related disorders, which show a familial tendency with a raised risk of disease for the siblings of affected children.
DNA samples provided by the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, a programme dedicated to accelerating the pace of autism research that dubs itself ‘a collaborative gene bank for autism’, were used to complete “the first genome scan for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)” (see press release). Rather than keeping the data to themselves while they analyse it for potential genetic links to the conditions, the group say that they are releasing the genotype data to allow other researchers to scrutinize it, on the basis that the more research it generates the better, in terms of advancing understanding of the genetic contributions to autism. President of the Autism Consortium Peter Barrett commented: “when people work together toward a common goal, we can speed up our understanding of these disorders and move towards better ways to help individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families”.