While it offers no immediate hope of treatment, the gene could account for up to 15 per cent of cases of the disease, and helps explain its underlying causes, Reuters reports. The team of researchers looked at DNA from over 12,000 people, some from families affected by autism; others from unaffected volunteers. “Previous studies have suggested that autism is a developmental disorder resulting from abnormal connections in the brain. These studies suggest some of the genetic factors which might lead to abnormal connectivity,” Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S., said in a statement. Three studies were published: two in the journal Nature, and one in Molecular Psychiatry.