Kevin Black’s family didn’t have any physicians in it. Well, one of his great-great-grandfathers had a medical license back in the late 1800s, but he had no formal training — and Black himself wasn’t planning on medical school. But during his first year of college, a teacher helped change his career plans.
A new model for understanding how nerve cells in the brain control movement may help unlock the secrets of the motor cortex, a critical region that has long resisted scientists’ efforts to understand it, researchers report June 3 in Nature.
Children with autism often have problems developing motor skills, such as running, throwing a ball or even learning how to write. But scientists have not known whether those difficulties run in families or are linked to autism. New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis by Claudia List Hilton, PhD, points to autism as the culprit.
Studying family members suspected of having Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a gene that causes a rare disorder highlighted by memory loss and motor impairments. The condition is known as Kufs disease, but scientists say the discovery paves the way to development of a genetic test for Kufs and to therapies to treat dementia, which is a hallmark of Kufs and of other neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.