The Brain Grows While the Body Starves, National Institute for Medical Research Study
Published: Aug 08, 2011
When developing babies are growth restricted in the womb, they are typically born with heads that are large relative to their bodies. The growing brain is protected at the expense of other, less critical organs. Now, researchers reporting in the August 5th issue of Cell, a Cell Press publication, unearth new molecular evidence that explains just how the brain is spared. In studies of rapidly growing fruit fly larvae, they've traced this developmental phenomenon to the activity of a gene called Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK). "ALK breaks the link between dietary nutrients and neural growth," said Alex Gould of the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research in London.