Monkey genes shed light on brain mysteries

Image: Monkey brain

A cross-section of the neocortex and cerebellum from an adult rhesus monkey brain has been labeled with a stain that highlights brain cells. (Credit: Allen Institute)

A project led by Seattle’s Allen Institute for Brain Science has mapped out how genes get fired up in key areas of a rhesus monkey’s brain as it develops – and the results could help researchers unlock the mysteries surrounding autism, microcephaly, schizophrenia and other neurological conditions.

The gene expression map, laid out today in research published by the journal Nature, shows that rhesus macaque monkeys are much better models than the usual mice for humans when it comes to brain development. It also confirms the view that different neurological disorders follow dramatically different genetic pathways.

“The sets of genes that turn on early, and the sets of genes that turn on in the adult, shift dramatically,” Allen Institute neuroscientist Ed Lein, the study’s senior author, told GeekWire.

The gene map follows up on earlier work that Lein and his colleagues have done with mice, to track how the brain develops from its fetal stage to adulthood. The Allen Institute has done similar work with adult human brains and fetal brains as well.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
This entry was posted in GeekWire and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.