Autism Research: Jan 9, 2015 Week in Review

ResearchProtein ‘hevin’ disruptions might be having role in autism, brain growth

Neuroscience researchers from Duke Institute of Brain Sciences have uncovered a new role that the protein ‘hevin’ was hitherto unknown to play in the developing brain of the neonate. Linked to autism in the past, researchers knew it played a role in suicide, autism as well as depression, but have now identified it to be a key player in sculpting connections in the brain called synapses. Published in the journal eLife, senior author Cagla Eroglu stated that using 3D electron microscopy they noticed how the protein encouraged synapse formation in newborn mice brains and eventually also found how mice that missed the gene coding for this protein had too many synapses compared to other normal mice. Thus the role of [protein ‘hevin’ in synapse regulation highlights a crucial point in the infantile brain development that might be leading to disorders like autism, which have been shown to be associated with ‘too many synapses’ in previous studies.

Reference:
Astrocytes Refine Cortical Connectivity At Dendritic Spines,” W. Christopher Risher, Sagar Patel, Il Hwan Kim, Akiyoshi Uezu, Srishti Bhagat, Daniel K. Wilton, Louis-Jan Pilaz, Jonnathan Singh Alvarado, Osman Y. Calhan, Debra L. Silver, Beth Stevens, Nicole Calakos, Scott Soderling, and Cagla Eroglu. eLife, December 17, 2014. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.04047

Gut microbes close in on brain disorder therapy

While more and more research is pointing towards how the gut flora might be playing a role in treating the brain, the Kavli Foundation added yet another stroke to this emerging picture. The collective human microbial community, called as microbiome, most of which inhabit the gut, have long been known to exercise influence on the human brain. Christopher Lowry and his colleagues at the University of Colorado are studying how they affect moods and if they can be used to treat autism, depression and anxiety. Similarly, Sarkin Mazmanian from CalTech has explored the link between autism and these microbes, identifying molecules released by these organisms that enter our blood stream and eventually the brain. His team found that microbial metabolic products actively affected our moods and could be harvested to treat anxiety, autism and other mood disorders

Reference:
Kavli Foundation. (2015, January 8). Could gut microbes help treat brain disorders? Mounting research tightens their connection with the brain.

Research draws attention to neurons controlling ‘focus’

Researchers from the McGill University have identified a group of complex neurons i.e. brain cells that control human attention. The team led by Julio Martinez-Trujillo published its findings this week in the journal Neuron. This path breaking research found, for the first time, an exact network of neurons situated in the forehead of the brain called the lateral prefrontal cortex that communicated with each other so that we could focus on things we want to and ignore all other sensory distractions constantly entering our consciousness. The findings could lead to immense applications in therapies targeted for neurodevelopemental conditions like ADHD, autism and schizophrenia.

Reference:
Sébastien Tremblay, Florian Pieper, Adam Sachs, Julio Martinez-Trujillo. Attentional Filtering of Visual Information by Neuronal Ensembles in the Primate Lateral Prefrontal Cortex. Neuron, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.11.021

Roundup-ready crops might lead to heavy autism in children, study suggests

Findings by Stephanie Seneff, PhD from MIT took attending scientists by storm when she declared that by 2025, one out of every two children will be autistic. In her talk at a special panel regarding GMO crops, she pointed out how Monsanto Glyphosate Roundup and other seemingly ‘inert’ herbicides were leading to toxicity and rising rates of autism. As just about anything that uses corn or soy, uses genetically modified seeds that are Roundup-ed, the chances that every other food product one is consuming is akin to firing a toxic bullet voluntarily into your system. Studies have shown elevated levels of glyphosate in children with autism and its high time that something drastic was done to prevent this oncoming epidemic.

Reference:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/autism-and-the-health-impacts-of-monsanto-glyphosate-roundup-on-children-research-scientist-at-mit/5421901