The Autism Genome Project is a pan-Canadian and international consortium designed to characterize autism susceptibility genes within the human genome and the mechanisms governing their actions. Studies indicate that autism is primarily a genetic condition that can be caused by single genes, multiple genes acting together, or chromosomal rearrangements, all necessitating a genomic approach to study the underlying mechanisms and pathophysiology of autism. As such, new genome scanning technologies, databases, and data analysis programs are also being implemented around this project.
Autism is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder, mainly affecting children, that is characterized by impairments in social communication and a preference for repetitive activities. It is one of a group of disorders (called autism spectrum disorders or ASDs) that share these characteristics but differ in course, symptom pattern or level of functioning. Recent studies indicate that as many as 1 in 165 children in Canada are afflicted with ASD, making it one of the most common forms of developmental disability of childhood.