ASD Research Project Aims to Collect 50,000 DNA Samples In an effort to learn about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) causes and potential treatment avenues, a new project will collect genetic information from tens of thousands of people with ASD and their families. The project, SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge), is sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   July 01, 2016
ASD Research Project Aims to Collect 50,000 DNA Samples
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   July 01, 2016
ASD Research Project Aims to Collect 50,000 DNA Samples
The ASHA Leader, July 2016, Vol. 21, 10. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.21072016.10
The ASHA Leader, July 2016, Vol. 21, 10. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.21072016.10
In an effort to learn about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) causes and potential treatment avenues, a new project will collect genetic information from tens of thousands of people with ASD and their families.
The project, SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge), is sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, which was launched in 2003. The Simons Foundation’s mission is to support innovative research that will improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of ASD.
Participants—people with autism or a family member—fill out a 20-minute online questionnaire about their medical and family history. Those who choose to contribute their DNA receive a cup in the mail to collect and return a saliva sample.
SPARK conducts an advanced genetic analysis on each sample and notify families if the results pinpoint a genetic cause of a particular person’s autism. The testing is free.
Project researchers, who collected samples from about 2,000 people with ASD during the program’s pilot phase, say they are on track to collect 50,000 samples within three years from people with autism and their parents and siblings.
SPARK data will become available to researchers throughout the world later this year.
Project officials say that in the short-term, families can get quick answers from genetic testing, and researchers may be able to draw immediate conclusions about some facets of ASD from the survey information. Over time, the data collected could lead to larger innovations, such as medications or therapies.
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July 2016
Volume 21, Issue 7