A new study has found that a gene mutation may contribute to autism, according to NBC News. Researchers have discovered that a specific gene that is mutated in those with the condition can have an impact on the developing cortex of a baby.
Published in Neuron, the document suggests that the radical glia are important building blocks. Sadly, if just one of these is out of whack, then it can have a huge impact on the rest of the brain.
The disruption of this development process could be one of the contributors that cause brain malfunctions as seen in those that have Autism. Around 1 in 40 children have some sort of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the US alone. According to Science Daily, that rate increased by over 15% during a two-year period. While it's a very common condition, scientists still don't know exactly what causes it. However, they do know that those with ASD have certain defects in their brains, but they don't know why.
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Experts theorize that a combination of genetic mutations and environmental factors can contribute. This study, and others like it, could help professionals to identify ASD early on, leading to earlier diagnosis. Scientists working on the study used mice to look into the abnormalities.
When the gene was mutated, the radial glia no longer behaved properly. Instead of sprouting single fibres that reached the length of the brain cortex, they grew multiple strands that appeared in random positions. As a result, nerve cells were misplaced. Despite these findings, it's important to note that not every person with Autism has this issue.
As Autism is so common, it's one of the most widely-researched medical conditions out there. Several studies have discovered that genes play an important role in the development of Autism.
Up until now, scientists believed these genes disruptions happened further down the line, not as early as the first three months of fetal development. Armed with this study, the medical community will be much better prepared to identify any issues much earlier on. While there is still a lot to be understood about the condition, studies like these pave the way for future research.