Friday, June 7, 2013

"Miswired" Brain Circuits May Lead to Development of Brain Disorders

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical School say they have uncovered a mechanism that guides the exquisite wiring of neural circuits in a developing brain and gained unprecedented insight into the faulty circuits that may lead to brain disorders such as autism. Reporting in the June 6 Cell, the study’s senior author Samie Jaffrey, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell, and colleagues described the process by which faulty wiring occurs when RNA molecules embedded in a growing axon are not degraded after they give instructions that help steer the nerve cell. The researchers say their description is of a process of brain wiring that is much more dynamic than was previously known, and thus more prone to error. And they believe that understanding the basis of brain “miswiring” can help scientists devise new therapies to correct problems.

“The idea that control of brain wiring is located in the RNA molecules that are constantly being dynamically turned over is something that we didn’t anticipate,” said Jaffrey. “This tells us that regulating these RNA degradation pathways could have a tremendous impact on brain development. Now we know where to look to tease apart this process when it goes awry and to think about how we can repair it.”

Several experts say the future looks promising for approaches—perhaps like this one—that will lead to the prevention of mental illnesses. Read more about that in Psychiatric News here.

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