Scientists find cause of autism in ‘junk’ DNA

New York: Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), researchers have discovered new genetic flaws that contribute to autism in people. Most previous research on the genetic basis of disease has focused on the 20,000 known genes and the surrounding sections of DNA that regulate those genes. However, even this enormous amount of genetic information makes up only slightly more than one per cent of the 3.2 billion chemical pairs in the human genome.

The other 99 per cent has conventionally been thought of as “dark” or “junk,” although recent research has begun to disrupt that idea. In their new finding, detailed in the journal Nature Genetics, the research team offers a method to make sense of this vast array of genomic data.

The system uses an AI technique called deep learning in which an algorithm performs successive layers of analysis to learn AZabout patterns that would otherwise be impossible to discern. The algorithm teaches itself how to identify biologically relevant sections of DNA and predicts whether those snippets play a role in any of more than 2,000 protein interactions that are known to affect the regulationof genes.

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