Scottish scientists have discovered a gene linked with autism, raising the prospect of the development of new treatments for the condition.
Drugs to control autism could be developed within five years as a result of the findings, according to the doctor who led the research team at the University of Aberdeen. The condition affects more than 500,000 people across Britain and there is no cure.
The study, published yesterday, began seven years ago with one child with severe autism.
The boy attended the genetics clinic at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where he was found to have a rare re-arrangement of chromosomes in which one had broken and swapped with another. By using genetic mapping techniques, researchers discovered that this realignment had disrupted a gene known to be important to memory and learning.
Drugs to control autism could be developed within five years