Autism is a spectrum of closely related symptoms involving behavioral, social and cognitive deficits. Early detection of autism in children is key to producing the best outcomes; however, searching for the genetic causes of autism is complicated by various symptoms found within the spectrum. Now, a multidisciplinary team of researchers has created a new computational method that has connected several target genes to autism. This informatics framework is ready for a much larger scale of autism research, such as genetic samples to be collected through the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK), the nation's largest autism study. SPARK is partnering with scientists who hope to collect information and DNA for genetic analysis from 50,000 individuals with autism -- and their families -- to advance understanding of the causes of autism and hasten the discovery of supports and treatments. Recent discoveries could lead to screening tools for young children, and could help doctors determine correct interventions when diagnosing autism.
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