Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Genetics of Schizophrenia - Kelly Morgan 42463306
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterised by poor emotional responses or a disturbance within the thought process. It commonly manifests with both auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, delusional thoughts and disorganized thought and speech patterns (Pinel, 2011).

This illness is thought to have multiple causes but the two most commonly studied are genetics (through twin studies and familiar studies) and drug use (specifically marijuana). Twin studies alone found a 45% coordinance rate (Pinel, 2011). 

O’Donovan, Williams and Owen (2003) report an 80% heritability rate in schizophrenia. In their study, Recent Advances in the Genetics of Schizophrenia (2003), they report and show evidence for three chromosomes in the human DNA strand that can be linked to schizophrenia. These chromosomes are 6p24-22, 1q21-22 and 13q-32-34.

(O’Donovan, Williams and Owen, 2003)

The paper also suggests that the gene NRG1, or neuregulin 1, is also a schizophrenic gene in a study on the Icelandic population. When susceptible, the gene fails to properly create myelin (the fatty substance around the outside of nerve cells that aids in conduction). This failure effects the central nervous system and this is a main cause of schizophrenic symptoms. 

Advances in genetics have made it possible to identify the schizophrenic gene but further research is needed before there is a cure. 

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