By better understanding the molecular and biological mechanisms involved with schizophrenia, scientists hope to use this new genetic information to one day develop and design drugs that are more efficacious and have fewer side effects.
In a study published online in the April issue of JAMA Psychiatry, the JAMA Network journal, researchers used a comprehensive and unique approach to robustly identify genes and biological processes conferring risk for schizophrenia.
The researchers first used 21,953 subjects to examine over a million genetic markers. They then systematically collected results from other kinds of biological schizophrenia studies and combined all these results using a novel data integration approach.
The most promising genetic markers were tested again in a large collection of families with schizophrenia patients, a design that avoids pitfalls that have plagued genetic studies of schizophrenia in the past. The genes they identified after this comprehensive approach were found to have involvement in brain function, nerve cell development and immune response.
“Now that we have genes that are robustly associated with schizophrenia, we can begin to design much more specific experiments to understand how disruption of these genes may affect brain development and function,” said principal investigator Edwin van den Oord, Ph.D., professor and director of the Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science at the VCU School of Pharmacy.
“Also, some of these genes provide excellent targets for the development of new drugs,” he said.
One specific laboratory experiment currently underway at VCU to better understand the function of one of these genes, TCF4, is being led by Joseph McClay, Ph.D., a co-author on the study and assistant professor and laboratory director in the VCU Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine. TCF4 works by switching on other genes in the brain. McClay and colleagues are conducting a National Institutes of Health-funded study to determine all genes that are under the control of TCF4. By mapping the entire network, they aim to better understand how disruptions to TCF4 increase risk for schizophrenia.
“Our results also suggest that the novel data integration approach used in this study is a promising tool that potentially can be of great value in studies of a large variety of complex genetic disorders,” said lead author Karolina A. Aberg, Ph.D., research assistant professor and laboratory co-director of the Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine in the VCU School of Pharmacy.
The study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health grants R01HG004240; R01MH078069; 1R01MH097283; and R01MH080403.
Collaborating institutions included Copenhagen University Hospital in Roskilde, Denmark; Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden; School of Medicine at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom; St. James Hospital in Ireland; University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom; University of California at Los Angeles; University College of London in the United Kingdom; University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom; University of Munich in Germany; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital in Norway; University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine; VA Boston Healthcare System; and Harvard Medical School.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A copy of the editorial is available to reporters in PDF format by email request from JAMA Network Media Relations Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (312) 464-5262.About VCU and the VCU Medical Center
Frances Dumenci | EurekAlert!
Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy