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May 20, 2007
Test to Detect Gene Variant Responsible for Cannabis-Induced Schizophrenia
Scientists in the United Kingdom are working on a marketable test to determine if a person is a carrier of a gene which would put them at a greatly increased risk of cannabis / marijuana-induced schizophrenia.
The gene type was isolated by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. It is believed to increase the risk of becoming ill from the use of cannabis by five times.
Currently, we have only been able to put members of families with a history of schizophrenia into the category of being at greatest risk of developing a mental illness from the drug. This test will hopefully be able to determine others who would be included in this high-risk category.
The test, which is hoped to provide an early warning system for vulnerable patients, is expected to be a simple and inexpensive mouth swab test in the form of a "Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Kit".
Dr. Marta Di Forti, a psychiatrist and clinical researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry is conducting a three-year study into genetics and psychosis. She says that the research is not at a stage where a test can determine for a person that if he/she has one gene variant he/she is safe, but if a different variant is detected, the person is not safe. But the hope is that the DNA screening could be used to predict vulnerability.
The research says, about this one gene type:
As many as one in four Britons is at increased risk of developing cannabis-related mental health problems. They have what is known as a "val val" variant of the gene that regulates dopamine levels, compared with those of the "met met" type who have no increased risk.
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at May 20, 2007 05:15 AM
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