Risk of Brain Injury is Genetic
News May 20, 2014
Premature babies’ risk of brain injury is influenced by their genes, a study suggests.
University researchers have identified a link between injury to the developing brain and common variation in genes associated with schizophrenia and the metabolism of fat.
The study builds on previous research, which has shown that being born prematurely - before 37 weeks - is a leading cause of learning and behavioural difficulties in childhood.
Around half of infants weighing less than 1500g at birth go on to experience difficulties in learning and attention at school age.
Scientists at Edinburgh, Imperial College London and King’s College London studied genetic samples and MRI scans of more than 80 premature infants at the time of discharge from hospital.
The tests and scans revealed that variation in the genetic code of genes known as ARVCF and FADS2 influenced the risk of brain injury on MRI in the babies.
Premature births account for 10 per cent of all births worldwide, according to experts.
Earlier research has shown that being born preterm is closely related to abnormal brain development and poor neurodevelopmental outcome.
However, scientists say that they do not fully understand the processes that lead to these problems in some infants.
Researchers add that future studies could look at how changes in these genes may bring about this risk of - or resilience - to brain injury.
In a new study in cells, University of Illinois researchers have adapted CRISPR gene-editing technology to cause the cell’s internal machinery to skip over a small portion of a gene when transcribing it into a template for protein building. This gives researchers a way not only to eliminate a mutated gene sequence, but to influence how the gene is expressed and regulated.
Researchers published today a detailed description of the complete genome of bread wheat, the world's most widely-cultivated crop. This work will pave the way for the production of wheat varieties better adapted to climate challenges, with higher yields, enhanced nutritional quality and improved sustainability.