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News briefs

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Gene linked to “Rain man” brain disorder

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) researchers have discovered a new gene linked to a congenital brain abnormality experienced by the person who inspired the movie Rain Man. Associate Professors Paul Lockhart and Rick Leventer led an international team which has discovered the first gene, called Deleted in Colorectal Cancer (DCC), known to cause the loss of the main connection between the two halves of the brain, in the absence of any other syndromes linked to the condition. About one in 4000 babies are born with agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC). Symptoms of ACC, where the corpus callosum is missing, are varied but can include intellectual disability, autism and cerebral palsy. Individuals with ACC who also have the DCC gene change often struggle with “mirror movements”. This means if they move one hand, the other hand automatically moves in the same way. This causes problems with everyday tasks including eating, washing the dishes, writing, driving a car and using a mobile phone or tablet. Lockhart and Leventer’s study suggests that individuals with ACC caused by mutations in this gene have much better neurodevelopmental outcomes than people with ACC linked to a particular syndrome. This holds important implications for decision making if the condition is detected during prenatal testing, they wrote. “The results…