Gene flaw causes small brain - scientists

Oct 03, 2010

Microcephaly, a disorder which leads to an abnormally small brain, has been traced in part to a flaw in a gene called WDR62 that plays a key role in the development of neurons, according to studies published on Sunday by the journal Nature Genetics.

Microcephaly, signalled by a small head and receding forehead, can be extremely disabling, handicapping speech and motor functions. There is no cure.

The WDR62 abnormality is one of a range of suspected to microcephaly. The condition also has environmental causes, including foetal exposure to alcohol, drugs and viruses such as chicken pox and German measles.

The studies are headed by C. Geoffrey Woods at Cambridge University and Christopher Walsh at the Boston Children's Hospital in Massachusetts.

Working separately, they spotted the WDR62 flaw by looking at the genomes of families with a history of microcephaly and by examining human and mouse embryonic cells in the lab.

Explore further: Stress reaction may be in your dad's DNA, study finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microcephaly genes associated with human brain size

Dec 21, 2009

A group of Norwegian and American researchers have shown that common variations in genes associated with microcephaly - a neuro-developmental disorder in which brain size is dramatically reduced - may explain differences ...

Discovery of a debilitating genetic syndrome

Dec 05, 2008

Canadian researchers announce the discovery of MEDNIK Syndrome, a debilitating genetic syndrome. In a study published today in the online version of PLoS Genetics, and in the December edition, a research team led by Dr. Patrick ...

Recommended for you

Science of romantic relationships includes gene factor

6 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Adolescents worry about passing tests, winning games, lost phones, fractured bones—and whether or not they will ever really fall in love. Three Chinese researchers have focused on that ...

Stress reaction may be in your dad's DNA, study finds

Nov 21, 2014

Stress in this generation could mean resilience in the next, a new study suggests. Male mice subjected to unpredictable stressors produced offspring that showed more flexible coping strategies when under ...

More genetic clues found in a severe food allergy

Nov 21, 2014

Scientists have identified four new genes associated with the severe food allergy eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Because the genes appear to have roles in other allergic diseases and in inflammation, the ...

Brain-dwelling worm in UK man's head sequenced

Nov 20, 2014

For the first time, the genome of a rarely seen tapeworm has been sequenced. The genetic information of this invasive parasite, which lived for four years in a UK resident's brain, offers new opportunities ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

desotojohn
1 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2010
Is it possible to test the remains of the Hobbit for this genetic flaw? Does any of the presumably modern relatives that live in the area have the flaw?
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (9) Oct 03, 2010
Democrats and atheists should be tested for this flaw immediately.
Birthmark
5 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2010
May there be a possibility of tapping into this and increases the neurons in the brain? If so when can sign up :D
knikiy
1 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2010
Democrats and atheists should be tested for this flaw immediately.

Also potatoes and tomatoes.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.