October 28, 2005

Damaged gene & Schizophrenia Predisposition (DISC1)

Dr. Duncan Shaw writes this week in a letter to the Guardian Newspaper (UK):

My colleagues and I have just had a paper accepted by the American Journal of Medical Genetics, where we show a five times greater risk of schizophrenia in people who carry a certain version of the gene DISC1. People who have this gene disrupted by chromosome damage have almost a 50% chance of schizophrenia or a similar illness. Both of these phenomena are just differences in DNA.

Prof Duncan Shaw
University of Aberdeen

Source: Guardian (UK), October 25, 2005

In an unrelated announcement (but relevant to the genetics of schizophrenia), Oxford University and The Wellcome Trust (in the UK) stated that a map of the human genetic make-up has been created to help scientists to find the causes of inherited diseases.

A large number of diseases, from depression and schizophrenia to diabetes and heart disease, have some kind of genetic component.

Despite the much-heralded sequencing of the human genome, this area of medical science remains largely understood, because of the sheer scale of the task of finding out which genes are linked to which diseases.

Now a team of more than 200 scientists from all over the world have greatly simplified the problem by creating the genetic "map", which shows groups of genes, called haplotypes, that are almost always found together.

So instead of looking at about ten million genetic variants, which is so expensive it is virtually unaffordable, researchers may have to study only about 300,000 marker genes on the "HapMap", which is feasible.

Professor Peter Donnelly, from Oxford University, one of the leaders of the project team whose work is being published in the journal Nature today, said: "Most of the common diseases people suffer from - diabetes, stroke, schizophrenia, arthritis etc - have a fairly substantial genetic component.

"But in most cases we know very little about the disease and what causes the disease. What we'd like to do is understand which genes are involved."

Source: The HapMap Project
More Information: International HapMap Project


Is there commercially available genetic testing centers that can check DNA for schizophrenia? Please let me know, because my son shows symptoms of schizophrenia, and I need to differentiate if this is genetic or from birth trauma.

Thank you

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