A unique genetic mutation may play a decisive role in early brain development and be a contributing factor in Autism, according to recent research.
The new study was conducted by the University of Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine. The study looked at the cerebral cortex, the area in the brain that regulates speech, consciousness and memory.
Scientists don’t yet fully understand the development of the cerebral cortex, but they do understand that radial glial cells are key to early development.
In the study, which was conducted in mice, the researchers discovered that a gene called Memo1 disrupts the pattern of the radial glial cells, which subsequently disrupts the organisation of new brain cells.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show that one in every 160 children are autistic, but scientists are unsure of the factors that cause the development of autistic traits.
Professor Eva Anton, PhD, Lead Researcher at UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, said: “For disorders of brain development, such as ASD, it is important to understand the origins of the problem, even if we are still far away from being able to correct developmental disruptions occurring in utero.
“We need this foundational knowledge if we are to truly get to the root causes of these conditions and eventually develop better diagnostic or therapeutic strategies.”
The scientists did note that it is still unclear what role the mutation plays in Autism, with further research needed to establish the impact.