If you put 10,000 people’s genomes in the cloud, could you demystify autism?

December 9, 2014 4:08 AM

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“The world,” the narrator notes in Mark Haddon’s novel “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” “is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” The novel is a mystery. The narrator is a 15-year-old boy named Christopher John Francis Boone. He is autistic, and he is quoting Sherlock Holmes – who was not speaking about autism, in the original Arthur Conan Doyle story, but perhaps could have been.

For all the strides researchers have made in recent years in understanding the disorder we generally think of as autism – actually, it’s a group of disorders, which collectively affect an estimated one out of 68 children in America – so much of it remains mysterious. Scientists are only beginning to...

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