Génome Canada

Génome Canada

June 11, 2010 09:24 ET

Genome Canada Funded Research Uncovers Key Changes in DNA in Individuals with Autism

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 11, 2010) - The Autism Genome Project, a new international study published in the June 9th edition of the journal Nature, demonstrates that people with autism may have differences in their genes that are unique to each person. This Canadian led study is funded by public and private partners including major awards and support from Genome Canada, thru the Ontario Genomics Institute. Genome Canada receives its support from the Government of Canada. The research team is co-led by Dr. Stephen Scherer, a molecular genetics researcher at the University of Toronto, Director of the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine and Director of the Hospital for Sick Children's Centre for Applied Genomics as well as Dr. Peter Szatmari, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University and Director of Hamilton's Offord Centre for Child Studies. 

"International collaborations that bring together the best scientists in the world to focus on important health issues such as Autism have the highest likelihood of success" said Dr. C. Thomas Caskey, Chairman of the Board of Genome Canada. "Genome Canada is proud to support the research of these two scientists who have played a leadership role since the beginning of this important study", stated Dr. Caskey.

The Autism Genome Project – the largest of its kind - consists of 120 scientists from more than 50 institutions representing 12 countries who formed a first-of-its-kind autism genetics consortium. The Project began in 2002, when researchers from around the world came together to share their samples, data and expertise to facilitate the identification of autism susceptibility genes.

Researchers compared the DNA of 1,000 people with autism spectrum disorder with that of 1,300 people without it. Thanks to the more than 100 autism-related genes identified, it could explain why different people show different symptoms. The results of the study also revealed that people who have autism spectrum disorder either lack or have extra copies of multiple genes vital in the development and function of the brain.

The results of the study will be of assistance to health care workers who currently treat autism with behavioral and educational interventions but would welcome better treatment and diagnostic tools.

About Genome Canada

Genome Canada is a not-for-profit Corporation that acts as the primary funding and information resource relating to genomics and proteomics in Canada. Its main objective is to position Canada as a world leader in genomics and proteomics research. Dedicated to developing and implementing a national strategy in genomics and proteomics research for the benefit of all Canadians, it has received $915 million in funding from the Government of Canada since 2000 to which has been added close to $1.0 billion in partnered co-funding and interest earnings.

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