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SickKids researchers find new genes and variations linked to autism using Autism Speaks’ MSSNG data

NEW YORK (July 27, 2020) – Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) uncovered new genetic changes and specific genes linked to autism in a study using Autism Speaks’ MSSNG whole genome database.

Previous research estimates that genetic changes are the primary contributor for as many as 50 to 90 percent of people with autism, although a specific genetic change can be linked currently in only about 20 percent of people with autism.

The new study, published today in the journal Nature, found that tandem repeat expansions are linked to autism. Tandem repeat expansions are sections of DNA that get duplicated next to each other, in sequence, many times over, in the way one wrinkle in a piece of paper when photocopied becomes multiple wrinkles. The larger the number of repeats of that DNA wrinkle, the greater the chances are that the person will develop a genetic condition.

With a new data computing approach, Dr. Ryan Yuen, Ph.D., was able to quickly search for these wrinkles in people with autism, uncovering that these changes were likely contributing to the development of autism – and in several new areas of the genome that were not previously linked to autism.

“We’re effectively searching millions of repetitive regions of DNA simultaneously and decoding them in a way no one has ever been able to do,” says Yuen, principal investigator of the study, scientist in the Genetics & Genome Biology program at SickKids and an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. “Our computational approach can determine the outliers – the tandem repeats that have an exceptionally high number of repetitions and could change how our genes function.”

This type of big data analysis is only possible with large databases of genetic information, such as the more than 11,000 whole genome sequences of people with autism and their families in the MSSNG database, but more importantly the approach MSSNG undertook, whole genome sequencing – looking at the entire DNA – was critical to finding these repeats in areas not previously studied.

“The important part of this discovery is that it defines a new biology for ASD that can help us define new targets and treatments,” said Dean Hartley, senior director of genetic discovery and translational science at Autism Speaks and a co-author of the study.  “This groundbreaking finding is a great example of what the MSSNG project aims to achieve: to understand genetic contributions to autism that will help lead to new and personalized interventions for people with autism.”

The researchers will extend these findings into future studies to link certain DNA changes to subtypes of autism identified by their clinical symptoms, with the goal of accelerating precision diagnosis and personalized medicine for people with autism.

“In order to conduct a robust analysis, we drew upon Autism Speaks’ MSSNG, a growing whole genome sequence database of families affected by ASD who are keen to better understand the many questions we all have about the condition,” said Dr. Stephen Scherer, co-author of the study, director of The Centre for Applied Genomics (TCAG) at SickKids, and director of the McLaughlin Centre at the University of Toronto. “This discovery would not have been possible without the families who are as committed to scientific exploration as the researchers themselves.”

Sick Kids Research

About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. To find resources, join an event or make a donation, go to www.autismspeaks.org.

Learn more by following @autismspeaks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About MSSNG

MSSNG is a groundbreaking project that is identifying and deepening our understanding of the many subtypes of autism, while supporting the development of more effective and personalized interventions to improve daily function, health and quality of life across the broad autism spectrum. Established through the generosity of several visionary philanthropic investors, MSSNG is the world’s largest open-access genome database on autism and the technological cornerstone of Autism Speaks vision to one day ensure that each child diagnosed with autism has a personalized treatment plan – unique and customizable across a lifetime. MSSNG is a collaboration between Autism Speaks, Autism Speaks Canada, Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), DNAstack and Dr. Stephen Scherer’s laboratory at the Centre for Applied Genomics at The University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

About Autism Speaks Canada

Autism Speaks Canada is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families by supporting and working with community partners; enhancing resources and services; increasing understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Learn more and join the conversation at www.AutismSpeaks.ca, on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn @AutismSpeaksCanada, and on Twitter @AutismSpeaksCan.

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Toys R Us Canada in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada is proud to launch play packs, designed to encourage developmental milestones for children with autism.

TORONTO, May 22, 2020 – Toys R Us Canada in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada is excited to announce the launch of their first developmental play packs, designed to encourage specific skill sets in children with autism. The launch celebrates a 10-year partnership between Toys R Us and Autism Speaks Canada, who have raised over $10 million and have made a significant impact by improving access to programs and increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism across Canada.

“Everyday challenges that affect the lives of individuals on the spectrum and their families vary and are only exacerbated by COVID-19. We are working hard and partnering with our friends at Toys R Us Canada to support the autism community during these times.” said Jill Farber, Executive Director for Autism Speaks Canada. “We are so grateful for our partners Toys R Us Canada for launching the discounted developmental play packs designed for kids with autism, their in-store campaigns, and sponsoring our walks. Toy R Us Canada plays a pivotal role in helping us improve access to important resources and services for families. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

Designed in collaboration with the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis (ONTABA), each pack focuses on these developmental skills: cognitive development, fine and gross motor skills, play and sensory, social and emotional development as well as speech and language development. 10% of sales from all Developmental Play Packs will be donated to Autism Speaks Canada.

“Toys R Us is thrilled to offer play packs that help with key developmental skills,” says Shelley MacDonald, Associate Vice President of Merchandising. “Every child deserves to have the opportunity to learn and develop through play.”

Developmental Play Packs are now available for purchase online at https://www.toysrus.ca/en/toysrus/Deals/Developmental-Play-Packs. To donate directly to Autism Speaks Canada and help enhance lives today and build a spectrum of solution for tomorrow for individuals with autism and their families visit www.autismspeaks.ca/donate.

About Toys”R”Us (Canada) Ltd (“Toys “R” Us Canada”)

Toys”R”Us Canada has been Canada’s dedicated specialty retailer of toys and baby products since 1984. The company brings national brands, exclusive products and unique partnerships to Canadians at its over 80 stores across Canada and through its e-commerce sites Toysrus.ca and Babiesrus.ca. Committed to giving back to its communities, the company focuses its charity efforts on supporting children and their families – whether enhancing resources and services, helping development through play or offering encouragement to seriously ill children. Toys”R”Us Canada is a subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us are registered trademarks owned by Toys”R”Us (Canada) Ltd. All rights reserved.

About Autism Speaks Canada

Autism Speaks Canada is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families by supporting and working with community partners; enhancing resources and services; increasing understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Learn more and join the conversation

About Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. Causes include a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and many are accompanied by medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 70 million people globally. Approximately 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with ASD in Canada.

For further information

Sarah Ahmed
Director, Marketing & Communications, Autism Speaks Canada
(647) 241-7746 (mobile) (416) 362-6227 ext. 208
[email protected]

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Olivier, Our Dog Walk Ambassador Is in the News

Olivier, our Dog Walk Ambassador is featured in the TMR POSTE DE MONT-ROYAL.

 
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Covid-19, We Are in This Together

March 19, 2020

First, I want to share my sincere hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. As we continue to monitor the evolving situation related to COVID-19, our top priority remains the health and safety of our constituents, community, employees, volunteers and donors. While we’re adapting to new ways of working during this challenging moment, our team is fully operational and committed to working together to support the autism community and fulfill our mission.

The autism community needs this commitment to our mission now, perhaps more than ever. Many people with autism and their families are being directly impacted, seeing disruptions in services and coping with the uncertainty of what comes next. We have created a centralized hub for resources to weather this storm together:

  • Visit our website for reliable information: COVID-19 Information and Resources. This page will be updated regularly as new content is developed. You will also find information about rescheduled Autism Speaks Canada events here.
  • Follow us on social media: We are working on a series of tips, tools and resources to help families work through common challenges. These will be posted on our social channels as they’re available. We encourage you to find @autismspeakscanada on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and @autismspeakscan on Twitter for regular updates
  • Reach out to our Autism Response Team: As always, Autism Speaks Canada is here to help and support the autism community. Please call our Autism Response Team at 1-888-362-6227 or email [email protected] for questions and access to tools, resources and supports.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada is a reliable source of information, as are provincial and territorial public health authorities.

We care deeply about the well-being of our community, and we urge everyone to follow best practices to stay safe and healthy during this time. We’ll continue to update you as new resources are made available, and we welcome your feedback on what would be most helpful to you and your families. Please reach out to us at [email protected] at any time.

Finally, just over a month ago, we launched our campaign to create a kinder world, not knowing what challenges were ahead of us. As we work through this difficult moment together, this message feels as relevant as ever. We look forward to promoting our message of kindness and inclusivity as we go into April, a globally recognized World Autism Month. Please continue to help and support us as we gear towards launching our World Autism Month campaign to help increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism.

I hope that amidst the stress and uncertainty of these times, we can all find ways to show kindness and compassion to one another. Please know we are sending you our best wishes for your health and safety.

With kindness, gratitude and hope,

Jill Farber

Jill Farber
Executive Director, Autism Speaks Canada

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Autism Speaks Canada is excited to announce their new partnership with bubly sparkling water beverage

TORONTO, July 31, 2019 – This summer families and friends will come together to increase understanding and acceptance of autism by participating in ASC bubly Smile Stands. You can join the fun by hosting an ASC bubly Smile Stand or by buying a bubly at these smile stands on July 31, 2019 until Sept 2, 2019. All proceeds raised will go towards Autism Speaks Canada.

“Partnerships with friends like bubly sparkling water beverage allow us to enhance lives today and accelerate a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow. We are grateful for their support and look forward to building bigger and better program with PepsiCo Canada.” – Jill Farber, Executive Director at Autism Speaks Canada.

“We are excited to launch our bubly Smile Stands and encourage Canadians to participate this summer. We are proud to be supporting Autism Speaks Canada and their ongoing dedication to a disorder that impacts so many families.” – Lourdes Seminario, Sr. Marketing Director at PepsiCo Canada. 

Ways to Participate

  1. To host a fun ASC bubly Smile Stand between July 31 to September 2, 2019, please register using this link. Autism Speaks Canada will send you a free ASC bubly Smile Stand Kit that will have everything you need to host a successful smile stand.
  2.  You can also participate by buying a bubly at these smile stands. Locations for these stands can be found using this link.

About Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. Causes include a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and many are accompanied by medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 70 million people globally. Approximately 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with ASD in Canada.

About Autism Speaks Canada

Autism Speaks Canada is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families by supporting and working with community partners; enhancing resources and services; increasing understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Learn more and join the conversation:

About bubly sparkling water beverage

bubly, PepsiCo Beverages Canada’s sparkling water brand that is full of flavor. It comes in five flavors; strawberrybubly, limebubly, grapefruitbubly, orangebubly and cherrybubly! No calories. No sweeteners. All smiles!

For further information, please contact
Sarah Ahmed
Director, Marketing & Communications, Autism Speaks Canada
(647) 241-7746 (mobile) (416) 362-6227 ext. 208
[email protected]

 

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Autism Speaks Canada’s annual Walk comes to Waterloo this Sunday, June 9, 2019 at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, presented by Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us Canada

TORONTO, June 5, 2019 – The 8th annual Autism Speaks Canada Walk takes place this Sunday, June 9, at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, 101 Father David Bauer Dr, Waterloo. The event brings together families, individuals, friends, coworkers and communities to celebrate with one another and raise funds and awareness for individuals with autism and their families. Under the theme ‘Powered by Love’, the walk is expected to attract 400 people in Waterloo.

“Our walks directly impact the lives of individuals and families,” said Jill Farber, executive director for Autism Speaks Canada. “We are so grateful for the work of our volunteers and the support we’ve received from our partners and friends, including Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us Canada. Through these walks and their in-store campaigns, Toy”R”Us Canada plays a pivotal role in helping us improve access to important resources and services for families. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

Held in numerous cities across Canada, Autism Speaks Canada Walks is the signature fundraising program for Autism Speaks Canada.  Since the first walk, they have raised more than $13.6 million in support of enhancing lives today and building a spectrum of solution for tomorrow for individuals with autism and their families. 

Walkers are encouraged to raise funds and enjoy the day complete with family-fun activities, quiet zone, an ASC Connect resource fair and, of course, the three kilometer walk.  All participants who raise $150 or more will receive a commemorative Tommy Hilfiger 2019 ASC WALK T-shirt.

Other Walk sponsors include Cineplex, Kernels Extraordinary Popcorn and in Waterloo sponsors include our Local Presenting Partner Equitable Life of Canada, 91.5 The Beat Hit Music Station and 107.5 Dave Rocks. The local lunch sponsors for the Waterloo walk includes Pillars and Gibson’s No Frills

For a complete list of Autism Speaks Canada Walks taking place throughout the country, including those taking place, visit www.ASCWalk.ca

About Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. Causes include a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and many are accompanied by medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 70 million people globally. Approximately 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with ASD in Canada.

About Autism Speaks Canada:

Autism Speaks Canada is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families by supporting and working with community partners; enhancing resources and services; increasing understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Learn more and join the conversation:

About Toys”R”Us (Canada) Ltd (“Toys “R” Us Canada”)

Since 1984, Toys”R”Us Canada has been Canada’s dedicated specialty retailer of toys and baby products. The company brings national brands, exclusive products, innovative loyalty programs and unique partnerships to Canadians at its 82 stores across Canada, its Toybox pop-up store in Guelph, Ontario and through its e-commerce sites Toysrus.ca and Babiesrus.ca. Committed to giving back to its communities, the company focuses its charity efforts on supporting children and their families – whether enhancing resources and services, helping development through play or offering encouragement to seriously ill children. Toys”R”Us Canada is a subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited.

For further information:

Sarah Ahmed
Director, Marketing & Communications, Autism Speaks Canada
(647) 241-7746 (mobile) (416) 362-6227 ext. 208
[email protected]

 

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Autism Speaks Canada’s annual Walk comes to Toronto this Sunday, June 2, 2019 at Nathan Philips Square, presented by Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us Canada

TORONTO, May 31, 2019 – The 13th annual Autism Speaks Canada Walk takes place this Sunday, June 2, at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. A three kilometer walk around Toronto’s City Hall, the event brings together families, individuals, friends, coworkers and communities to celebrate with one another and raise funds and awareness for individuals with autism and their families. Under the theme ‘Powered by Love’, the walk is expected to attract 2,000 people in Toronto.

“Our walks directly impact the lives of individuals and families,” said Jill Farber, executive director for Autism Speaks Canada. “We are so grateful for the work of our volunteers and the support we’ve received from our partners and friends, including Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us Canada. Through these walks and their in-store campaigns, Toy”R”Us Canada plays a pivotal role in helping us improve access to important resources and services for families. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

Held in numerous cities across Canada, Autism Speaks Canada Walks is the signature fundraising program for Autism Speaks Canada.  Since the first walk, they have raised more than $13.6 million in support of enhancing lives today and building a spectrum of solution for tomorrow for individuals with autism and their families. 

Walkers are encouraged to raise funds and enjoy the day complete with family-fun activities, quiet zone, an ASC Connect resource fair and, of course, the three kilometer walk.  All participants who raise $150 or more will receive a commemorative Tommy Hilfiger 2019 ASC WALK T-shirt.

Other Walk sponsors of the walk and ASC include Cineplex, Kernels Extraordinary Popcorn and local sponsors EllisDon, Oracle RMS, TMDL, Riverwood Senior Living and Starbucks.

For a complete list of Autism Speaks Canada Walks taking place throughout the country, including those taking place this weekend in Montreal, Saskatoon and Ottawa, visit www.ASCWalk.ca

About Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. Causes include a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and many are accompanied by medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 70 million people globally. Approximately 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with ASD in Canada.

About Autism Speaks Canada:

Autism Speaks Canada is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families by supporting and working with community partners; enhancing resources and services; increasing understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Learn more and join the conversation:

About Toys”R”Us (Canada) Ltd (“Toys “R” Us Canada”)

Since 1984, Toys”R”Us Canada has been Canada’s dedicated specialty retailer of toys and baby products. The company brings national brands, exclusive products, innovative loyalty programs and unique partnerships to Canadians at its 82 stores across Canada, its Toybox pop-up store in Guelph, Ontario and through its e-commerce sites Toysrus.ca and Babiesrus.ca. Committed to giving back to its communities, the company focuses its charity efforts on supporting children and their families – whether enhancing resources and services, helping development through play or offering encouragement to seriously ill children. Toys”R”Us Canada is a subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited.

For further information:

Sarah Ahmed
Director, Marketing & Communications, Autism Speaks Canada
(647)241-7746 (mobile) (416)362-6227 ext. 208
[email protected]

 

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Senator Munson’s Visit to McMaster May 21, 2019

MacART members together with Senators Munson and McMaster.
MacART members together with Senators Munson and McMaster.

May 21st was a memorable day for the McMaster Autism Research Team (MacART) and for McMaster University. We were honoured to co-host a visit from Senator Jim Munson, and his wife Ginette, to McMaster in partnership with the Socrates Project. Their visit began with presentations by members of MacART to inform the Senator and his wife about some of the ground-breaking and collaborative autism-related research happening at McMaster.

In the afternoon, various leaders, stakeholders, family members and self-advocates – numbering over 120 – from the autism community across southern Ontario gathered in the Great Hall of the McMaster University Faculty Club for a Socrates Project event with Senator Munson. MacART trainees Dr. Vivian Lee, Dr. Mackenzie Salt, and Dr. Stephen Gentles participated in a conversation with the Senator around why Canada needs a national autism strategy, what a strategy might include, and the feasibility of such a plan. This was followed by questions from the highly engaged audience.

Senator Munson is notable for his advocacy for autism and developmental disabilities. It was his leadership in Parliament that led to the adoption of An Act respecting World Autism Awareness Day and, later, the 2007 Senate Report, Pay Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis. Soon after, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA) was formed, which has worked to advance the idea and outlines for a National Autism Strategy, the topic for the afternoon’s conversation. This past spring CASDA released its Blueprint for a National ASD Strategy, which provides a path for concrete federal action—relevant for all political parties given the federal election this fall. As the Senator said, “Autism is not just a provincial responsibility or a federal responsibility. It is a Canadian responsibility. We have to give hope to everybody. We have to give a place for everybody to participate.”

Senator Munson and MacART trainees speaking at the Socrates Project event.
Senator Munson and MacART trainees speaking at the Socrates Project event.

 

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Autism Speaks’ MSSNG project reaches 10,000-genome milestone

World’s largest autism whole-genome database a beacon to developing new solutions for individuals with autism and their families

NEW YORK (May 6, 2019) – Autism Speaks’ groundbreaking MSSNG project has reached its initial goal of sequencing more than 10,000 whole genomes of individuals with autism and their family members in the latest update to its signature genetics program, creating the world’s largest open-source precision medicine database specific to understanding autism.

“Having 10,000 whole-genome sequences on one free, open-source platform gives researchers with diverse questions from around the world a powerful resource to better understand the genetics of autism and how they relate to each person’s unique strengths and challenges,” said Thomas Frazier, Ph.D., chief science officer for Autism Speaks. “MSSNG is central to our goal to rapidly develop ways to personalize care for people with autism.”

The 10,000-genome dataset, which continues to grow, goes live in June 2019 in an advanced database, a critical milestone in ensuring that more genetic variations – and more types of autism – are represented in research analysis and results.

“We know there are many subtypes of autism. The more data we include related to different types of autism in each research study, the more inclusive the results will be, fueling a flow of discoveries,” said Stephen Scherer, Ph.D., MSSNG research director. Dr. Scherer directs the Centre for Applied Genomics at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, where the genome sequencing is conducted.

Launched in 2015, the MSSNG database started as a collaboration with SickKids and Google. To date, MSSNG’s cloud-based computing system is freely sharing data globally in 58 institutions across 16 countries producing transformational autism research studies. This has included 18 newly identified autism risk genes that include de novo mutations, as well as changes in non-gene encoding regions.

Autism Speaks and SickKids are joined by critical partners Verily and DNAstack, which are both leaders in genomics engineering. Their contributions of cutting-edge technology and resources make MSSNG one of the most advanced autism genetic databases.

“MSSNG’s rich data, powerful software and broad researcher access help close gaps in the world’s understanding of autism,” said David Glazer, engineering director at Verily. “Sequencing 10,000 genomes from affected families is an exciting milestone in our efforts to collect, organize and activate health information.”

Technological features from these firms align MSSNG data to global standards, allowing researchers to access multiple large datasets from one interface and give deeper insight into the underpinnings of autism. These features promote responsible open science that can accelerate discoveries to find information and solutions for individuals and families seeking help.

“Sharing data is one of the best ways to accelerate our understanding of genetically complex disorders like autism,” said Dr. Marc Fiume, CEO of DNAstack and co-chair of the Discovery Work Stream for the GA4GH. “MSSNG is pioneering new methods in open science that will make data more findable, accessible and useful. MSSNG will have an enormous impact on open science, far beyond autism, for years to come.”

With this update, MSSNG also will join the Beacon Network, a global search engine for finding genetic variations, allowing autism researchers to easily find similar data. Just as critical, the MSSNG beacon will allow scientists from other disciplines to find similar data they are studying, thus bringing new researchers and insights into the autism field.

Autism Speaks co-founded Autism Sharing Initiative (ASI) to catalyze worldwide sharing of data in autism, and the ASI was recently selected as a Driver Project of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH).

“ASI encourages research institutions to build technological and sociological bridges to other whole-genome autism datasets. Data sharing helps accelerate discovery,” said Dean Hartley, senior director of genomic discovery at Autism Speaks and a co-lead of the ASI project.

The MSSNG project is made possible by the ongoing support of individual donors and foundations, whose generosity has been a catalyst for achieving a greater understanding of autism. In particular, the visionary leadership of the Board of Autism Speaks, particularly founder Bob Wright, led to the organization’s historic investment in MSSNG. Private philanthropy via Autism Speaks has funded nearly $16 million in the MSSNG Genomic Initiative.

To apply for access to MSSNG, visit mss.ng.

About Autism

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. A combination of genetic and environmental factors may influence the development of autism, and autism often is accompanied by medical issues such as GI disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism affects an estimated 1 in 66 children in Canada.

Media Contacts:

Sarah Ahmed: [email protected]