Knowledge about the biological origin of diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions is critical to improving diagnosis and treatment. In an effort to push the field forward, three UCLA researchers, along with scientists from more than 20 countries, have been taking part in one of the largest collaborative efforts in psychiatry — a genome-wide study involving more than 50,000 study participants aimed at identifying which genetic variants make people susceptible to psychiatric disease.
UCLA scientists have identified a molecular switch that prevents Huntington's disease from developing in mice. Published in the Dec. 24 edition of the journal Neuron, the discovery suggests a new approach to treating the genetic disorder, which ultimately leads to death in as little as 10 years.
If humans are genetically related to chimps, why did our brains develop the innate ability for language and speech while theirs did not?
Scientists suspect that part of the answer to the mystery lies in a gene called FOXP2. When mutated, FOXP2 can disrupt speech and language in humans. Now, a UCLA–Emory University study reveals major differences between how the human and chimp versions of FOXP2 work, perhaps explaining why language is unique to humans. Published Nov. 11 in the online edition of the journal Nature, the findings provide insight into the evolution of the human brain and may point to possible drug targets for human disorders characterized by speech disruption, such as autism and schizophrenia.
Disruptions also found in cellular pathways involved in memory and cognition
Schizophrenia is a devastating mental disease, thought to be caused by the interaction of both genetic and environmental factors. Because there is no biochemical test that can identify the disorder, physicians rely upon the recognition of its symptoms — which can include auditory hallucinations and paranoia — in order to make their diagnosis.
Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disease characterized by disorganized behavior, delusions and hallucinations. Sadly, there is no clear understanding of its cause. Now, in a collaborative study, UCLA and Dutch researchers have identified three new candidate genes for schizophrenia that may contribute to a better understanding of how the disease evolves.