New research from the ongoing Autism Speaks MSSNG project – the world’s largest autism genome sequencing program, which was launched in 2014 through a collaboration between Autism Speaks and Google – recently identified an additional 18 genetic variations that appear to increase the risk of autism.
The MSSNG [pronounced “missing”] database was set up as an open resource that can be accessed and added to by qualified researchers all over the world; its missing letters stand for the missing information about autism those researchers are seeking through the massive amount of data it collects. With the discovery of the 18 new variations, research using the MSSNG genomic database has identified 61 genetic variations that affect autism risk.
“It’s noteworthy that we’re still finding new autism genes, let alone 18 of them, after a decade of intense focus,” said study co-author Mathew Pletcher, Ph.D., Autism Speaks vice president for genomic discovery. “With each new gene discovery, we’re able to explain more cases of autism, each with its own set of behavioral effects and many with associated medical concerns.” The project’s overall goal is “to advance personalized treatments for autism by deepening our understanding of the condition’s many subtypes,” he added. The new research was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.