May 11, 2006

New Schizophrenia Gene Discovery - QKI

Further evidence that the QKI gene plays a role in people's predisposition to developing schizophrenia was recently reported in the scientific journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science" last month.

This is an area of research that we've reported on previously - see Targeting synapses and myelin in the prevention of schizophrenia, as well as Bi-Polar and Schizophrenia Both Lack Myelin Genes, and also Schizophrenia caused by lack of nerve cell insulation?

The good news is the at least one drug company (Astra Zeneca) feels that this research is evidence enough to invest millions of dollars and is already at work to try to use this data to develop new drugs to help in schizophrenia.

The Sweden-based research group has previously shown that the QKI gene is a possible contributing cause of schizophrenia. Now the scientists have found that QKI normally regulates the myelin genes, that is, the genes that govern the production of myelin, the insulation material for nerve fibers. Moreover, they can show that the genetic expression of QKI is altered in schizophrenic patients and that the change correlates directly with the change in the myelin gene expression.

“In schizophrenics, fewer myelin proteins and less myelin are produced, we believe. Since myelin functions as an insulating substance around nerve fibers, impulse transmission is hampered in schizophrenics,” explains Elena Jazin, one of the researchers at Uppsala University.

It is hoped that the new findings will lead to improved treatment of schizophrenia in the future. “We hope that existing drugs can be altered so that more patients will be helped and the side effects reduced. Perhaps the findings will also lead to new medicines. But this will require research and will take a long time,” explains the researchers.

Scientific Sources:

Human QKI, a potential regulator of mRNA expression of human oligodendrocyte-related genes involved in schizophrenia

Human QKI, a new candidate gene for schizophrenia involved in myelination

RNA metabolism and dysmyelination in schizophrenia


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