A recent study conducted by PLOS Biology has revealed the importance of Active-DHA in the brain, particularly as it is still developing. This could mean big things in terms of our ability to better understand how to protect the developing brain and improve its function for those with rare conditions like microcephaly.
For most children, brain development isn’t something that’s given much thought. As they grow, their brain grows, and their brain function is fostered. However, for those who face a rare brain condition such as microcephaly, a greater scientific understanding of brain development could change their lives.
“We’ve unleashed big possibilities for innovations to support our brain health” – Douglas Hicks, Vanteres
The brain is one of the organs that is very lipid-rich. While scientists have known this for a long time, it hasn’t been understood how the brain received all of the lipids it carries. For instance, until PLOS Biology’s study, it wasn’t clear how the brain received Active-DHA.
Their study uncovered that 1) Active-DHA is transported to the brain by MFSD2a, and 2) Those with a MFSD2a deficiency develop a unique form of microcephaly. Two and two were put together and it was finally definitively proven that Active-DHA is crucial for the regulation of growing cell membranes in the brain and that without it, Microcephaly is inevitable.
In essence, those without proper amounts of MFSD2a have reduced amounts of Active-DHA and therefore have poor brain and intellectual development.
So what can we do with this new information? Vanteres is working to develop products to help support brain development despite low levels of Active-DHA. While the human liver does convert DHA to Active-DHA naturally, it’s not enough to replace the missing Active-DHA in the brain for individuals who have microcephaly. The goal is to create a product (clinical or nutritional) which would help more Active-DHA actually reach the brain.
This newfound of understanding of the importance of Active-DHA for proper brain functioning could drastically improve research related to microcephaly.