Australian experts help drive new international brain consortium


A new international consortium for scientists researching disorders of the mid-section of the brain (or corpus callosum) has met for the first time and pledged to work together to not only find its genetic causes but also to track the outcome for people affected with these disorders.

The corpus callosum is the largest ‘wiring’ pathway in the brain, connecting the left and right hemispheres and responsible for integrating information.

About one in 3000 babies is born with a corpus callosum disorder (DCC). Scientists know that the corpus callosum begins to form in the fetus at around 12 weeks, however why the corpus callosum fails to form or only partially grows in not fully known.  The outcomes for people with a DCC range enormously from having a very high level of impairment where they can’t walk or communicate to a very low level where those living with a DCC may not know they have it.

The International Research Consortium for the Corpus Callosum and Cerebral Connectivity (IRC5) members from France, Brazil, the United States and Australia gathered for their annual meeting in San Francisco on May 4.

The consortium will work toward discovering the role genetics plays in DCC, the changes in brain wiring that occur and to determine the intellectual, social and behavioral challenges associated with the disorder.

To help the consortium achieve its aims and to speed up discovery, members from different countries will share their data for people with corpus callus malformations.

Queensland Brain Institute Deputy Director Prof Linda Richards said sharing information will give researchers access to a bigger group of patients, driving research ahead faster and allowing new discoveries to be put to practical use more quickly.

Founder of America’s National Organisation of Disorders of the Corpus Callosum Dr Lynn Paul (from California’s Institute of Technology) said research advances will help develop treatments and compensatory strategies for those living with DCC.

“Additional study in these areas will be a critical first step toward identifying and testing novel treatments,” she said.

The next IRC meeting will be held in conjunction with the Australian Disorders of the Corpus Callosum (AusDoCC) Connections Conference, May 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.