A team from Emory University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have explored the role of a micro-RNA in the development of autism spectrum disorders. And imagined a treatment effective on mice.
The genetic causes of autism are becoming increasingly known. A study involves a disruption of a microRNA called MIR-137 in disease development. What is a micro-RNA? It is a small molecule close to DNA, but whose function is not to encode the proteins that make the cell. Micro-RNA (also called miRNAs) function to regulate biological processes such as cell development, differentiation, growth and metabolism. By deteriorating the messenger RNA (which has a "coding" function for proteins) or by stopping the synthesis of proteins, they inhibit the expression of different genes.
According to several studies published in recent years (especially an article by Ebrahim Mahmoudi and Murray Cairns, published in Nature Molecular Psychiatry in 2017), the MIR-137 plays a critical role in the function of the brain. It actually regulates several hundred genes. When it fails, the activity of these genes decreases, causing cellular dysfunctions that can lead to neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism. But the exact mechanics of this phenomenon are badly known. It is the shortcoming that came to fill a study published by a team of researchers at Emory University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nature Neuroscience …