For the first time, scientists have mapped developing brain in the foetus, thus capturing the organ while it is growing inside the womb. The map of the foetus gives us a clue on what it is that makes humans so different from animals and also when the disorders like autism really take root and develop further. The researchers said that the map is another instalment in their suite of brain atlases to try to map how all the genes in the body are used across the brain and across development.
The institute had earlier developed several maps of the developing as well as adult mouse brain, developing monkey brain and the adult human brain. The new map is the first to take a look at a developing human brain;to be specific, the developing neocortex, which is the seat of higher cognitive functions.
The map created is precise enough to use it to study the various types of cells at different stages of development. The map was created by the researchers with the help of healthy prenatal brains from a brain bank i.e. a collection of donated human brains. The team had used brain tissues that did not have any abnormalities or viruses such as HIV.
Snapshots of the the brains at two different stages of prenatal development were taken. So as to measure the gene activity, the researchers made use of a powerful tool called DNA microarray, which gives a quantitative measurement of the activity of each gene that exists in the human genome simultaneously.
The gene activity results were compared with data from other species, the mouse brain being specifically analysed.
Article source: Indiatimes
Image courtesy: Getty Images
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