Life

Computer analysis reveals 'junk' gene link to autism

AUTISM has been linked to mutations in ‘junk' DNA, the 98 per cent of our genes the purpose of which are not fully understood because they don't, unlike the other 2 per cent, instruct proteins to carry out tasks in our bodies.

Computer analysis of the genes of 1,790 people with autism and their families, published in the journal Nature Genetics, found the number of autism cases linked to mutations in ‘junk' DNA was similar to the number linked to protein-coding DNA.

This is the first clear demonstration of such mutations causing any complex human disorder, say the researchers, who hope now to explore the role of junk DNA in cancer and heart disease.

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