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MIT Technology Review

On Autism’s Trail

Affymetrix’s microarrays will provide insight into complex genetic diseases.

November 1, 2006

A new microarray that can simultaneously detect 500,000 or more specific genetic variations, covering almost every gene in the genome, will provide better insights into the complex genetic bases of many illnesses. Using the chip from Santa Clara, CA-based Affymetrix (a similar one is made by San Diego-based Illumina), researchers worldwide are seeking genetic causes of diseases such as autism, diabetes, and ­Alzheimer’s. Below is a sampling of these efforts. Emily Singer

A new gene chip from Santa Clara, CA based Affymetrix. (Courtesy of Affymetrix).

Disease

U.S. sufferers

Status

Autism

1 million to 1.5 million

Genetic data from 3,700 people with autism are now being analyzed.

Alzheimer’s

4.5 million

Genetic data have been collected from 1,645 Alzheimer’s patients. Results from analysis are expected late this year or in early 2007.

Type 1 and type 2

diabetes

20.7 million

Early results from a study of 2,000 sufferers of each diabetes type are expected by early 2007.

Hypertension

65 million

Early results from a study of 2,000 sufferers are expected by early 2007.