Building tools against autism

As information about the genetic underpinnings of autism spectrum disorder has proliferated, so too have questions about how subtle changes in a seemingly diverse set of genes can lead to similar clinical pathology. This month, an academic-industry consortium headed by King's College London and Roche launched with €29.6 million ($38.9 million) to develop research tools and diagnostics for the disorder and to help select clinical endpoints for future trials.

Up to 40% of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases are now thought to stem from either single mutations or a combination of multiple genetic variants. For example, a trio of recent exome sequencing studies identified spontaneous mutations that substantially increase the risk for ASD.1-3

However, the underlying causes of the majority of ASD cases that lack a clear genetic component remain mysterious. As

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