Key Points: New study provides key to infant's healthy brain
Key Points: New study provides key to infant's healthy brain

Washington: University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have discovered some facts on human brains develop, which reveals that the very last step in cell division is crucial for the brain to reach its proper size and function.

The new findings that are published in the Journal of Neuroscience identify a potential contributor to microcephaly, a birth defect in which the head is underdeveloped and abnormally small. That's because the head grows as the brain grows.

Scientists have suspected that a particular cellular protein, Cep55, is essential for proper abscission. Dwyer wanted to investigate that, to determine what would happen if the protein were absent.

Notably, the neural stem cells that failed abscission signalled that they needed to be removed from the brain, the researchers report. That led to massive numbers of cells dying and being removed. That's in contrast to cells elsewhere in the body, which don't call for their own removal when abscission fails.

The researcher Noelle D. Dwyer noted that blocking the cell death signal with drugs or gene therapy could help restore brain growth in certain types of microcephaly, but it also might m ake brain function worse.

 Dwyer and her team aim to understand how small changes in individual cells can lead to dramatic changes in the brain. In this case, they have identified an important role for abscission, the final step in cell division. During abscission, a new, or "daughter," cell severs its connection to its "mother" cell. Think of it like cutting the cord when a new baby arrives in the world.

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