Sunday, February 6, 2011

Major Advance: Schizophrenia Gene Mutation Found

A major advance in schizophrenia research was announced this week. An international research team has found a gene mutation that is strongly linked to the development of schizophrenia, which is, in effect, finding a pathway to the development of new drugs to treat the disease.

Dr. Jonathan Sebat of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, leads a large team of researchers - the list of researchers is 28 lines long in the press release - from the United States (Harvard, Columbia, University of Washington, McLean Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and UCSC), Chili and Ireland.

In the release, Dr. Sebat said, "This is the kind of gene that the pharmaceutical industry has been waiting for. Its activity can be modulated by synthetic peptides, and some have already been created."

Frankly, I don't understand much else of the press release, but it was announced as the first conclusive evidence that rare mutations can cause schizophrenia.  The illness occurs in 1 percent of the general population and 10 percent of people who have a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with the disorder. Good news at last. 

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