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Unraveling the mystery of autism: one person at a time

Newsweek spotlights revolutionary research on the genetics that make each person’s autism unique – with a special nod to Autism Speaks MSSNG project
August 11, 2016

“If you’ve seen one person with autism, you’ve seen one person with autism.” So begins Newsweek science writer Aimee Swartz’s in-depth look at a new wave of research into autism’s complex genetics with the aim of developing more personalized treatments.

Unraveling the mystery of autism: one person at a time” shines a spotlight on the Autism Speaks MSSNG (pronounced “missing”) project and the Simons Foundation’s SPARK project. Autism Speaks is also supporting SPARK through recruitment efforts at ten of its 14 Autism Treatment Network (ATN) sites and at many of its major Walks.

Ms. Swartz writes:

MSSNG goes beyond SPARK’s plan of sequencing the exome—it will look at all 3.2 billion letters of genetic code in the human genome to get a more “holistic” view of the genetic underpinnings of autism, says Mathew Pletcher, interim chief scientific officer at Autism Speaks.

With more than 5,000 [now 7,000] genomes already fully sequenced, the MSSNG data set has allowed scientists to discover new parts of the genome involved in autism that were previously missed, using techniques that look at only parts of the DNA. “It also revealed that the disorder’s genetic underpinnings are way more complex than previously thought,” Pletcher says.

Read the full Newsweek feature story here