New [Free!] Tool Offers Insight into Diseases like Autism
Researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science have just released a high resolution blueprint of the human brain. What makes this particular mapping unique? It shows which genes are turned on and off during brain development at mid-pregnancy, all at an unprecedented resolution.
That isn’t even the best part, the Allen Institute for Brain Science is sharing it’s work with the public for further research by anyone who is interested. This means that you or I can have access to this information, for free, if we want it.
Already the new map has given researchers hope for discovering the root cause for autism. The researchers looked at several different genes that were associated with the autistic spectrum, “We used the maps we created to find a hub of genetic action that could be linked to autism – and we found one,” says Lein, one of the researchers involved with the program.
“These genes were associated with the newly generated excitatory neurons in the cortex, the area of the brain that is responsible for many of the cognitive features affected in autism such as social behavior. This discovery is an exciting example of the ability of the BrainSpan Atlas to generate meaningful hypotheses about the origins of brain developmental disorders.”
Understanding what causes autism and other brain diseases will give researchers new avenues to find ways to treat and even cure the diseases. Understanding what causes autism is also important given the false link between the autistic spectrum and vaccines. Researching and raising awareness of the new findings will hopefully end the idea that a vaccine can cause autism.
Moreover the new map will give important insights in what makes humans unique. “We know that some important regions of the genome show striking sequence differences in humans compared to other species. Since where a gene is expressed in the brain can give insight into its function, we can use our map to begin to figure out the roles of those genes in making humans distinct,” says Lein.
Interested in the brain atlas for research, or just want to poke around and see if you can learn something new? You can have full free access at the Allen Institute for Brain Science website or you can go there directly by clicking here, they have a wide variety of maps to look at, some more interesting to the average person than others.
I highly suggest the mouse brain, I enjoyed it anyway, but maybe that says more about me than the mouse brain.