February 6, 2018

Copyright Medical Xpress

Investigators, from left: Yuhong Guo, Jesse Kumar, Laura Smith, Chris Cowan, Adam Harrington, Maria Carreira, Makoto Taniguchi and Rachel Penrod-Martin. Not pictured: Carly Hale and Mike Robichaux. Image: Patrick O’Connor.

New research conducted at the Havard school of medical research at McLean Hospital have isolated a cluster of genes that are specifically linked to autism.

The cluster named EphB are predominantly essential in the wiring of the brain during the development of a foetus. A mutation in these cells causes mis-wiring commonly contributing to the symptoms of autism.

Christopher Cowan, HMS associate professor of psychiatry at McLean Hospital said:

 “Using animal models, we were able to see that EphB is required for normal . Mutations in EphB that compromise its function led to abnormal connections between key brain regions involved in processing of .”

The findings were published on January 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the abstract can be found here.

Researchers looked closely at this family of genes in animals, as it has been thought by scientists in recent years to be the gene cluster responsible for certain developmental conditions in humans. They looked specifically at the communication between the parts of the brain responsible for processing information and making sense of the outside world.

Dr Cowan said:

“Some individuals with autism show abnormalities in sensory perception and processing, including touch, sound and vision.

“We found that EphB genes are essential for normal wiring of at least two key parts of the brain that process sensory information, particularly regions involved in touch and sound. Our findings suggest that defects in early  might underlie at least some of the sensory-associated symptoms found in individuals with .”

Further investigation is in the pipeline, and Autism Daily Newscast will keep you informed of any further developments.

 

About the author 

Shân Ellis

Shân Ellis, is a qualified journalist with five years experience of writing features, blogging and working on a regional newspaper. Prior to working as a journalist, she was a ghost writer for top publishers and was closely involved in the editing and development of book series. Shân has a degree in the sciences, and 5 A levels. She lives in the UK and is the mother of an autistic child.

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