Schizophrenia Signs Before Birth

DNA study offers hope for schizophrenia disorder

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) With approximately 2.5 billion chances for diversity in our human genome, there is a lot of science going into our individual differences.  

This on-going study dives into the expression of these genetic variations in our perceptions, actions, and thoughts. Examining the effects in intimate detail, this study could provide a baseline of research to unlock the mysteries of our most phenomenal brain disorders.

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The National Institute of Health published a video highlighting this study with Dr. Joel Kleinman of their Clinical Brain Disorders Branch explaining his research. Dr. Kleinman and his team explore the use of mRNA and its expression in the brain's dorsalateral prefrontal cortex. The doctor chose to study this area because he believes it is a "particularly human part of the brain," responsible for insight, judgement, and planning.

Dr. Kleinman's research team examined 650,000 common genetic variations and analyzed the expression of all 24,000 genes present in the human genome. This analysis was done on 269 postmortem brains. The database created from this research encompasses over a trillion pieces of data involving the prefrontal cortex.

The information available through this database will allow scientists to explore how these areas affect mental stability and serious brain injuries. A 2007 press release from the Institute connected the causation of schizophrenia to genes in the prefrontal cortex.  With an existing connection, this study provides increasing hope for schizophrenia sufferers. 

Dr. Kleinman's explains: "the genetic variation that's increasing risk for schizophrenia... has been associated with transcripts which were preferentially expressed in fetal human brain. Makes me think that this illness is probably beginning right from the early parts of brain development."

His findings are partially supported by a study released this week in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry. Professor and researcher Michael Owen also found a genetic variation to increase the likelihood of schizophrenia, only these variations were genetic mutations. 

Professor at Cardiff University, Owen explains: "by studying such a large sample we have been able to provide the first clear insights into the sorts of basic biological processes that underlie schizophrenia." And it is the hopes of NIMH researchers that similar breakthroughs will occur with their research in the future.

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Review Date: 
November 17, 2011
Last Updated:
November 26, 2011