AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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In Some Genetic Cases of Microcephaly, Stem Cells Fail to Launch

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Uncovering how genetic defects cause microcephaly may help Zika researchers

In a very severe, genetic form of microcephaly, stem cells in the brain fail to divide, according to a new Columbia University Medical Center study that may provide important clues to understanding how the Zika virus affects the developing brain. Due to the Zika virus, the world is suffering from its first known epidemic of microcephaly, a devastating brain developmental condition that substantially reduces the number of neurons in the brain, along with brain size and function at birth. Mutations in a number of human genes have been implicated in causing the relatively rare occurrence of this disease. Mutations in one gene – NDE1 (referred to as “nood-E”) – cause a particularly rare severe form of microcephaly. To read more, click here.

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