News on Wellness

Fetus Brain Maps To Help Understand Autism

Foetus Brain Map

Researchers have revealed a high-resolution map which shows gene activity in a human fetus brain. The map holds promise of showing the way to understand developmental disorders like autism. It shows the genes that are active in any specified area of the brain at different stages of development. The research conducted by a group of scientists in the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences in Seattle, was earlier done on mouse and adult human brains and now it has given results in fetus brains.

Foetus Brain Map

The map was drawn using brain tissue of four donated fetuses. The brains were healthy, without any abnormalities and were virus free. Mapping of fetus brain is crucial because, many behavioral and psychiatric problems exist before birth, even though they may not be evident until later years. Ed Lein, one of the members of the research team said that these 15-21 week old fetuses were ideal as they had just commenced to establish the neocortex which is responsible for many of our cognitive processes.  He added that, by studying this early stage, they could understand how genes drive the generation of many different types of neurons that ultimately form our functional circuits.

The study using the map looked at genes associated with autism, and found a particular area of the brain where they were most active during a definite period of prenatal development. The research may have not exactly explained the entire mechanism but it shows that some of the roots of autism may be in this particular process happening prenatally. The researchers are hopeful that similar patterns can be found for other disorders at this early developmental phase, which in turn will lead to discovery of treatments.

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