In August, UNC announced that researchers at the School of Medicine had published an article in the journal Nature on the effect of impaired topoisomerases on brain development that could potentially lead to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  This discovery could lead to additional study into the disorder’s genetic causes and have implications for ASD detection and prevention.

According to the researchers, a temporary exposure to a topoisomerase inhibitor in utero may affect critical periods of brain development. Most of the known topoisomerase-inhibiting chemicals are used as chemotherapy drugs, but there may be other drugs or environmental compounds that have similar effects.

The study’s coauthors include Mark Zylka, Benjamin Philpot, Terry Magnuson, Ian King, Chandri Yandava, Angela Mabb, Hsien-Sung Huang, Brandon Pearson, J. Mauro Calabrese, Joshua Starmer and Joel Parker from UNC and Jack S. Hsiao and Stormy Chamberlain of the University of Connecticut Health Center.

For more information and to view videos by two of the co-authors, click here.