Genetic Mutations higher in Schizophrenia
Hardly a week goes by that doesn’t involve yet another genetic discovery that could help solve the puzzle of schizophrenia and in so doing offer the chance for a cure or more effective treatments. There’s nothing wrong with this and I guess some news is better than no news, but I do wonder what it must feel like to be a person with schizophrenia, waiting for the day when all of this will amount to something.
Every so often a report comes out that is a bit different to the others and catches the eye because of this. For me, it is usually due to the fact that it helps to explain something about schizophrenia, rather than holding out any imminent hopes. So this posting is a case in point; not earth shattering, just interesting.
Deletions and duplications of DNA are common. So common, every single person has them. A team of researchers has found that they are much more common in people with schizophrenia, particularly in the genetic make up relating to brain development. Using DNA from 150 people with schizophrenia a research team have found rare deletions and duplications in 15 percent of the sample. Moreover, those whose schizophrenia began before the age of 12 had an even higher rate (20 percent). This data was compared to a control sample of 268 healthy individuals and it was found that only 5 percent had genetic deletions and duplications.
One of the most interesting aspects of the findings is the fact that every mutation is different and acts on different genes. This, as the researchers identify, points to a situation where for most cases of schizophrenia the genetic causes will be different. Therefore the cause of schizophrenia is due to many different mutations in many different genes. At the moment most research focuses upon mutations that are shared among different people.
The research indicates that a broad-brush approach to treating schizophrenia is unlikely to be of much use in such situations. The hope is that as new genomic technologies become available it will be possible to detect rare mutations within each individual and help in the development of treatments that can be targeted specifically at disrupted neurological pathways.
University of Washington (2008, March 28). Rates Of Rare Mutations Soar Three To Four Times Higher In Schizophrenia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/03/080327172352.htm