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Autism and DNA Link: 18 Gene Variations May Increase Risk of Autism, Study Reveals [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 08, 2017 08:09 PM EST

A recent study on the link between autism and DNA found 18 additional genes that may be responsible for an increase in the risk of the disorder. The MSSNG Project report is published this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The breakthrough was the result of analyzing the DNA of 5,205 families who have members with autism

The on-going project that aims to advance autism research has been successful in discovering 61 gene mutations associated with the condition and accompanying medical disorders. The researchers found that certain genes are associated with cardiac defects, seizures, and adult diabetes.

Eighty percent of these variations affect biochemical pathways. The findings will be useful in guiding families and medical practitioners on more effective and personalized medical care, Autism Speaks reports.

The team led by Stephen Scherer, Ph. D. as research director explained that the investigation would pave the way for a deeper understanding of autism and its various levels. Neurodiversity plays a huge role in the disorder, and it is an aspect the research is looking into.

It seeks to explain the phenomenon observed in some families in which two members fall on different scales in the spectrum. They have also identified people who had the risk but did not manifest the disorder.

The research was fueled by disturbing figures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US found in two surveys that the number of children affected by the disorder is increasing, according to NBC News.

Unlike analyses in the past which looked for genetic variations in only one percent of a person's DNA, MSSNG (pronounced "missing") was unprecedented. The biggest and most ambitious whole genome research enables investigators to analyze a person's entire genome-- 3 billion DNA base pairs from the database stored on Google cloud. Researchers will be given access free of charge to over 7,000 fully sequenced genomes in the coming weeks.

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