Partek Incorporated, in collaboration with the Kennedy Krieger Institute, has been awarded a phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in the amount of $1.8M by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop commercial software which will analyze human genetic changes and illuminate chromosomal abnormalities underlying conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Previously Partek and Kennedy Krieger collaborated to develop a novel mathematical method that combined two commonly used genotype association approaches to reveal the opaque genetic distinction between individuals. While that study focused on estimating the relatedness between individuals, this study will focus on families with one or more members affected by ASD. This will facilitate the development of analysis tools to identify chromosomal abnormalities with the goal of identifying individuals with ASD during infancy. Earlier diagnosis will allow treatment to be started sooner when it can best improve life-long cognitive and social skills. These same analysis tools will be used in the diagnosis of other mental health conditions including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia––potentially enabling early treatment.
“One in every 88 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and one in every four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. We are excited to be working with researchers at Kennedy Krieger Institute to build tools that are innovative, rigorous, and useful to the biomedical research community.” said Tom Downey, Principal Investigator and President of Partek Incorporated.