Vital chromosome linked with schizophrenia in Tamil Nadu

October 13th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 13 (IANS) Scientists at the Schizophrenia Research Foundation in Chennai, India and Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research have found significant evidence that links the chromosome 1 region with schizophrenia among a group of people in Tamil Nadu. The study is based on long collaboration between Bryan Mowry, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research executive director, and Rangaswamy Thara, director of the Schizophrenia Research Foundation.

Over the years, both these groups have been recruiting and analysing schizophrenia samples from genetically similar Indian castes. Mowry said the significance of the findings likely reflected the unique features of this particular Indian population.

The authors conducted a genome-wide linkage scan for schizophrenia. Participants were 441 individuals who were recruited primarily from one ethnically homogeneous group, Tamil Brahmins, although individuals from other geographically linked castes also participated.

“Although we have known for decades that genes are important in schizophrenia, identifying specific genes has been hampered by clinical complexity, multiple small-effect genes and environmental interactions,” Mowry said.

“This Indian population offers favourable characteristics for gene identification including a relatively pure clinical presentation, a negligible rate of comorbid drug and alcohol abuse, ethnic homogeneity and high environmental consistency, each of which may reduce noise in statistical genetic studies of schizophrenia.”

Schizophrenia affects one percent of the world’s population and is characterised by disruptions in language, thought, perception, social activity and volition, according to a University of Queensland press release.

Previous studies of both Caucasian and Chinese populations have provided modest support for the chromosome 1 region in schizophrenia susceptibility, but the Indo-Australian research is the first to produce convincing results.

The researchers are now conducting detailed investigation into the chromosome 1 region in order to identify specific risk genes and replicate their findings in other populations.

The study was published this month in the prestigious American Journal of Psychiatry.

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