Saturday, October 18, 2014

Multiple Neurodevelopmental Disorders Have a Common Molecular Cause

News Brief by Catie Donlon

There are millions of people who live with life-altering neurodevelopmental disorders everyday. Unfortunately however, there is not a lot known about the molecular pathways that cause these disorders and therefore there are currently very few cures or treatments. Some of these neurodevelopmental disorders include Down Syndrome, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or autism-spectrum disorders. These diseases are difficult to treat because they are rare, and they can arise from a combination of a many mutations in multitude of many different genes. Therefore it can be difficult to identify the root cause of these diseases. 

Recently, scientists at McGill University have suggested that these disorders could be caused by neural stem cells that differentiate too early. They have been mutating genes to decrease activity of two autism-spectrum disorders in human fetal brain cells. The first gene they mutated was Transcription factor 4 which caused an 18q21 deletion syndrome. They then mutated euchromatic histone methyltransferase 1 which caused 9q34 deltion syndrome. Both of these mutations caused similar deletion syndromes therefore having similar molecular effects. These molecular effects are also similar to the ones seen in differentiating cells. Therefore the study proposes that certain mutations may produce similar effects in a multitude of neurodevelopmental disorders, possibly allowing for a single treatment that could be effective for many different diseases.

Cell Press. "Multiple neurodevelopmental disorders have a common molecular cause." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2014. .

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