July 30, 2005

Revolution in Psychiatric Treatment

Genomics or "the study of all of the nucleotide sequences, including structural genes, regulatory sequences, and noncoding DNA segments, in the chromosomes of an organism" (dictionary.com), is what will lead us to the next revolution in psychiatric treatment. Eventually the hope is that we will be able to individualize medicine so that the drugs one takes is specific to their genetic makeup. The Human Genome Project gave us the information for the 3 billion base-pairs of DNA, but now we need to know how they each affect the brain.

"For instance, merely knowing the location of genes, as was achieved with the completion of the Human Genome Project, is barely a beginning. That accomplishment has been likened to writing the "White Pages," a "text" made up of 3 billion base-pairs of DNA, with every gene having an address and a phone number to locate it within the text. But what is really necessary, Insel explained, is the "Yellow Pages"—a catalog of where and how genes are expressed and how they function. So a critical research goal is to go "gene by gene along the White Pages, ask if the gene is expressed in the brain, and if so where." That goal is being advanced by the Gene Expression Nervous System Atlas (GEN-SAT) Initiative at Rockefeller University, among other places" (Moran, 2005).

Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) stated that the challenge was to take genomic variation and understand it on the level of behavioral/functional differences between people. Luckily scientists will not have to map the 3 billion base-pairs of DNA, rather they will be mapping haplotypes. Haplotypes are a group of alternative forms of a gene that occur on a single chromosome and are closely enough linked to be inherited as a unit (Medline Plus Medical Dictionary). The International HapMap Project is an effort being made by several countries to find and catalog haplotypes. With such a map we could make individualized medication an eventual reality. It would be one huge step closer to the revolution in psychiatric medication.

Information about the International HapMap Project is posted online at http://www.hapmap.org.

The source of this article is Psychiatry Online News.

You can access the full article at: http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/40/14/12

Posted by christine at July 30, 2005 01:16 PM

More Information on Schizophrenia Genetics



Posted by: TRACY ELIZABETH at July 14, 2007 11:50 PM

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