DNA collection event for Autism study at MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) - We first told you about a nationwide study that could help find individual treatments for people with autism. 

Today, the spark program came to MSU. News 10's Marcus Dash found out what this study hopes to find out.

When it comes to understanding autism and how it is caused or the factors that go into it, researchers from Rush University Medical Center are trying to find out all of those answers, and they are doing that with studies like SPARK.

"The goal is to try and figure out different kinds of underlying causes of autism and more effective and targeted interventions to really help the quality of life in these individuals and their families," said Allison Wainer.

The study requires a collection of genetic and general information from around 50,000 people with autism and their family members.
Allison Wainer tells me there is a specific process they follow for the DNA collection.

"The way we do that is by asking some basic questions and having them collect some saliva samples," said Wainer.

Brooke Ingersoll a psychology professor at MSU was happy that the study collected samples in mid-Michigan allowing families like the Wollners who we recently caught up with to take part in this study.

Ingersoll tells me autism research needs collaboration just like this.

"We need large data collection and to do that we need to have partnerships across a variety of different biological research and intervention research," said Brooke Ingersoll.

Rush University Medical Center is into their second year of the SPARK program and they are already making discoveries.

"There had only been a handful of genes that had been identified as maybe being related to autism, over the course of the study already that number has increased dramatically," said Wainer.

If you didn't get a chance to make it to the on-site data collection, you can still be a part of the study just by going to their website and requesting a kit and following all of the necessary steps.