In a new study, Trusted Source, researchers say they have identified a gene that could be a key to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism as well as a potential therapy for such conditions. “The development of the human brain is a very complex process, said Bettina Weigel, a study co-author and a PhD student at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, in an article accompanying the study. This complexity renders it sensitive to disruption, which can cause neurodevelopmental defects. For the study, researchers used mice that were genetically engineered with human neurons to more closely understand the interplay between these genes and neurodevelopmental disorders in people. The scientists honed in on a specific “transcription factor,” which is a protein that determines which genes are active and inactive within a particular cell. They reported that one transcription factor in particular, MYT1LTrusted Source, appears to help safeguard neuron development in the human brain.
When this factor was inhibited, the mice in the study displayed some functional changes and actions typical of autism and other neurodevelopment disorders, including hyperactivity and anxiety-like behaviour. Neurodevelopmental disorders (ND) as grouped by DSM-5 include autism, ADHD, learning, communication and motor disorders, and intellectual development disorders (intellectual disability). Neurodevelopmental disorders (ND) are defined as having an onset in the early developmental period, typically in early childhood. ND tend to have a steady rather than remitting and relapsing course and their core features show marked maturational changes from childhood to adult life. It is now recognized that these disorders, or at least some symptoms and impairment, persist well into adult life for many. It is therefore imperative that as much prevention work and early treatment be done to mitigate these symptoms and help children grow into functioning adults with a higher quality of life.
Source: Health Line