A team of scientists from Harvard Medical School has identified a single gene that’s linked to an increased risk of microcephaly, a birth defect that affects the brain.
They say the gene, called MCV-15, is a single copy in humans, but it may be shared among other human strains of the virus.
“The genetic structure of the gene could make it more likely that it will be found in other people,” the scientists wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Human Genetics.
The gene is located in a region of the brain called the dendritic spines, which are connected to the brainstem.
It’s possible that the MCV mutation has made these spines more susceptible to damage, they wrote.
“This could result in microcephalic development in the future,” said lead researcher Dr. Robert J. Cramer, a professor of neuroscience and neuroscience and a professor at Harvard Medical.
He was not involved in the study.
The researchers say there are about 50,000 new cases of microcephalic babies being born every day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the disease is mostly caused by Zika virus, but has also been linked to other viruses.
About 20,000 people have been infected in the United States with the virus and nearly 2,500 of them have died.
“We are seeing an increase in microcephalics that we didn’t see before,” Dr. David Spiegelhalter, the CDC’s director, told reporters.
“And that’s something that needs to be understood, as a precautionary measure.”
Microcephales are tiny babies with brain damage.
They’re more likely to have developmental delays, learning disabilities and developmental delays in other areas.
A 2016 study found that one-third of the babies born in the US with microcephi were born with a developmental delay, a development that may affect their brains and brain function.
In the new study, the researchers found a variant of the MCv-15 gene.
They also looked at other variations in the virus, such as the variant known as MCV10.
This variant causes the brain to produce more brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which may be beneficial in brain development, and the variant MCv15 has been linked with a decreased risk of autism spectrum disorder.
“Our work demonstrates that we have the genetic information we need to understand the risk of this variant of MCv and what we can do to mitigate its risk,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health and co-author of the paper.
“It’s important that the public be informed about these types of risks and that the science of this disease is appropriately explored.”
The researchers found the gene’s presence in the brain of microchipped babies was highly specific for the first six weeks of life, but decreased as the babies progressed through the first trimester of their lives.
“You see this in the first week of life,” said co-lead author Dr. Yannick V. Dube.
“So this is a very promising piece of evidence that the virus is a cause of microeclampsia, and that it has a very important impact on brain development.”
A second paper by Dr. Dute et al. published in PLOS One found that there is a correlation between the MCvect mutation and autism in microchips.
That study also found a correlation in microsatellites.
Both studies were conducted at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), the University at Buffalo and the National Science Foundation.
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