On October 11, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago announced the receipt of a 3-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to conduct the largest hunt for genetic contributors to autism. Cure Autism Now's gene bank, AGRE, will serve as an important source of genetic and clinical information for this study.
"Autism is quite likely to result from the combined effects of multiple, very subtle genetic changes that differ considerably from family to family, since no single reliable genetic cause has been found yet," says Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D., principal investigator of the project and director of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Hopkins. "We'll be looking for combinations of genetic mutations and extra or missing gene copies that are much less common, even in the affected group, than most scientists are used to considering. This is a huge undertaking."
The researchers will apply new genome searching technologies to available samples and information from 465 families, including 979 individuals with autism, to identify genetic factors that contribute to the condition. AGRE is proud to serve as a critical resource in this promising and exciting research.