University of North Carolina Health Care
March 31, 2016

Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine have found a class of commonly used fungicides that produce gene expression changes similar to those in people with autism and neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease.
The study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, describes a new way to home in on chemicals that have the potential to affect brain functions.
Mark Zylka, PhD, senior author of the study and associate professor of cell biology and physiology at UNC, and his team exposed mouse neurons to approximately 300 different chemicals. Then the researchers sequenced RNA from these neurons to find out which genes were misregulated when compared to untreated neurons. This work created hundreds of data sets of gene expression. Zylka's team used computer programs to deduce which chemicals caused gene expression changes that were similar to each other.

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