Machine Learning Is Helping Us Find The Genetics Of Autism

The genetic cause of autism spectrum disorder is notoriously hard to research. Genetic markers for the disorder are tough to match from patient to patient because they’re so rare—one of the most common genetic signifiers is only found in less than one percent of those diagnosed with autism. Even when genetic anomalies are found, they must be checked against family members genomes to ensure it’s not attributable to a more commonly inherited mutation that doesn’t cause disease. Researchers at Princeton and the Simons Foundation turned the traditional approach on its head, teaching a machine learning algorithm to look for the genetic relationships that could cause autism. The algorithm scoured a digital network of the human genome’s interactions, looking for relationships and connections that are similar to those in previously-known markers…


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