Professor Daniel Geschwind discusses the importance of his group's discovery of an autism locus on chromosome 17.
The discovery of the first autism locus at genome-wide significance means that basically we found a region of the genome that is part of the chromosomes that we inherit that is highly likely to have within it a gene that predisposes to autism. This is the first step in the process of identifying the gene, so therefore it is very important. It is as if you are looking for a needle in a haystack but you’re in a field of a thousand haystacks. Here, we’ve found the haystack, and now we have to find that needle within the haystack, and we are moving in fairly rapidly now because genetic technology allows us to do this very rapidly.
This particular region is on chromosome 17q, that is the long arm of chromosome 17.