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Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 1:00pm

New research published by a Mercy professor in the International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology is expected to improve understanding of brain disorders like epilepsy or microencephaly.

Dr. Juan L. Brusés, professor of biology and a co-author of the study with a team of scientists working in France, said: “Our goal was to examine CACNB4, a protein that regulates cell proliferation and cell cycle progression, and to determine whether its proper functioning is affected by mutations linked to neurological disorders.”

During formation of the nervous system, cells must divide, or proliferate, at a certain rate. Increases or decreases in the rate of cell proliferation can disrupt the total number of cells in the brain and the proper formation of connectivity, leading to serious brain disorders including intellectual disabilities.

“Our study showed that CACNB4 regulates the rate of cell division. Since we already know that mutations in CACNB4 can cause epilepsy and intellectual disabilities, our research suggests that the loss of the ability to regulate cell division during neural development is related to the cause of neuropsychiatric disorders.”

While a cure, or even a complete understanding of the causes of brain disorders, are still years away, such research sheds light on the mechanisms of brain development and may one day lead to better methods of treating, ameliorating, or even preventing neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders.