Faulty brain signals behind schizophrenia

March 4th, 2009 - 1:39 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 4 (ANI): Schizophrenia could be caused by faulty signaling in the brain, claim scientists, who found that 49 genes work differently in the brains of patients with the condition.

Many of these genes are involved in controlling cell-to-cell signalling in the brain, the Molecular Psychiatry study said.

The study, which was carried out by researchers at Imperial College London and GlaxoSmithKline, supports the theory that abnormalities in the way in which cells ”talk” to each other are involved in the disease.

Schizophrenia symptoms vary but can include hallucinations, lack of motivation and impaired social functioning. The disorder has little physical effect on the brain and its causes are largely unknown.

Some scientists believe that schizophrenia could be caused by the brain producing too much dopamine, partly because drugs that block dopamine action provide an effective treatment for the condition. Another theory is that the coat surrounding nerve cells, which is made of myelin, is damaged in people with schizophrenia.

However, the new study found that the genes for dopamine and for myelin were not acting any differently in schizophrenia patients compared with controls.

Professor Jackie de Belleroche, the corresponding author of the paper from Imperial College London said: “The first step towards better treatments for schizophrenia is to really understand what is going on, to find out what genes are involved and what they are doing. Our new study has narrowed the search for potential targets for treatment.”

The researchers reached their conclusions after analysing brain tissue from 23 controls and 28 schizophrenia patients, selected from brains donated by UK patients being treated for schizophrenia and comparing the data to an equivalent study in the USA. (ANI)

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