Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Schizophrenia and Neuregulin

From The New York Times:
Researchers have made progress in understanding how a variant gene linked to schizophrenia may exert its influence in the brain. The findings are tentative but, if confirmed, could yield deep insights into the biological basis of the disease. The gene, called neuregulin-1, was first implicated in schizophrenia in 2002 by DeCode Genetics, a Reykjavik company that looks for the genetic roots of common diseases in the Icelandic population. But how the variant form of the gene contributed to the disease was far from clear, in part because even the normal gene's function is far from understood....

Neuregulin is one of about 10 genes so far linked to schizophrenia. It plays many different roles in the brain, some concerned with synapses, the interconnections between neurons, so derangements of its function are a plausible source of schizophrenia. It is a long road, however, from knowing a variant gene is linked with a disease to understanding the biology of how the disease is caused.
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