Scientists use mini-combs to image the genetics of autismGW study suggests

Researchers have devised a way to create organoids of the human genome researchers at the Centre for Genomics at the University of Bristol have shown.

Current techniques for organizing information from DNA are usually quite laborious. As a result of this scientists end up with enormous amounts of data. This bacterial problem is called sequencing bias and it can prove very problematic in making progress in understanding human disease.

We wrote our genomes because we suffer from it when you try to do complicated great experiments such as in DNA sequencing said study leader Professor David Speck director of the Center for Genomics in Bristols Bristol Biological Laboratory.

We like to think of them as a tree and in the case of people with autism we have chromosome 1 and chromosome 22 which is pretty radical.

So effectively that means we can regulate our genome without dealing with sequencing bias which is the problem in many genome-based brain studies because people with a copy number of 22 have a very rare form called FMRT22. These people can have neurodevelopmental intellectual disabilities mood disorders and autism. But for the general population who only have chromosomes 15 and 22 and are not necessarily going to have many more than that which will result in huge data volumes said Speck.

With organoids BrainGAD-TS researchers were able to create a 44-inch picture of the human genome and present this data along with genetic data.

The organoid factor for autism was generated by removing and processing individual 2-micron sections of chromosome 28 from the patient. The other 36 chromosomes were kept in place as is and the developing brains were grown in a dish.

Speck: We know from a neurological spectrum study by the University of Cambridge neuroregeneration unit that people with FMRT22 have trouble with inhibition the ability to stop something from happening to you. We also know that organoids are a really reliable tool for brain mapping. Ravi Shankar one of the volunteers who made these organoids says he cannot remember the last time he decorated his brain.

They look really good. And they are sexual. You can turn them into male or female or whatever you want. That way we make sense in the case of autism he said.

A diagram of BrainGAD-TS organoid showing chromosome shape. Provided by the University of Bristol.

Its a preliminary result but the results are really encouraging and look promising says Dr. Michael Corbett head of the University of Cambridge neuroregeneration unit and leader of the Biological Learning Team at the center.

Once you are on top of these organoids you get to really feel what its like to be part of the study. Its more emotional and you can understand what is going on with the brain.

Other mechanisms involved in autism spectrum disorders.

Even though we have not really studied it it would not be wrong to say that part of autism is genetic. The one thing we have to do is look at the genes involved says Speck. But for the time being we have this massive amount of data. Big genomic project is due out very soon and we are closing in on the larger scale 5000-subject study which will allow us to do an even larger brain test with all the participants.