Thursday, July 02, 2009

New research on the link between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

I just saw this interesting article on Drudge from The Independent entitled, "Unlocked: the secrets of schizophrenia:"

Scientists have discovered a remarkable similarity between the genetic faults behind both schizophrenia and manic depression in a breakthrough that is expected to open the way to new treatments for two of the most common mental illnesses, affecting millions of people.

Previously doctors had assumed that the two conditions were quite separate. But new research shows for the first time that both have a common genetic basis that leads people to develop one or other of the two illnesses. ....

"Discoveries such as these are crucial for teasing out the biology of the disease and making it possible for us to begin to develop drugs targeting the underlying causes and not just the symptoms of the disease," said Kari Stefansson, the head of deCode Genetics, the Icelandic company involved in one of the three studies. "One of the reasons this study was so successful is its unprecedented size. Pooling our resources has yielded spectacular results, which is what the participants from three continents hoped for."

If you or someone you know suffers from either of these illnesses, you will know how difficult and painful they can be. Let's hope this research leads to better treatment options.

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Blogger Nom dePlume said...

This is fascinating. If Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia share some degree of underlying cause, that may explain why antipsychotic medications can be effective as anti-manic agents.

It will be interesting to see how this discovery affects medical treatment over time. I suspect this is a key point:

The study also found links to schizophrenia with DNA variations in certain genes involved in the growth of nerve cells in the brain and the production of a protein messenger molecule that helps the transmission of signals from one brain cell to another.

More information can be found at the Nature blog (, and the NIMH press release (

Unfortunately, there is almost no information in these articles about the connection between the genetic abnormalities, and abnormalities of brain structure or chemistry. Hopefully this kind of information will come.

4:08 PM, July 02, 2009  

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