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Toward a Molecular Explanation for Schizophrenia

RATE THIS! +18
Posted in Science on 1st Jan, 2014 10:41 PM by AlexMuller

Surprisingly little is known about schizophrenia. It was only recognized as a medical condition in the past few decades, and its exact causes remain unclear. Since there is no objective test for schizophrenia, its diagnosis is based on an assortment of reported symptoms.

 

The standard treatment, antipsychotic medication, works less than half the time and becomes increasingly ineffective over time.

 
"We discovered a new pathway that plays a part in schizophrenia," said Prof. Gozes. "By identifying and targeting the proteins known to be involved in the pathway, we may be able to diagnose and treat the disease in new and more effective ways."
 
Autophagy is like the cell's housekeeping service, cleaning up unnecessary and dysfunctional cellular components. The process — in which a membrane engulfs and consumes the clutter — is essential to maintaining cellular health. But when autophagy is blocked, it can lead to cell death. Several studies have tentatively linked blocked autophagy to the death of brain cells seen in Alzheimer's disease.
 
Brain-cell death also occurs in schizophrenics, so Prof. Gozes and her colleagues set out to see if blocked autophagy could be involved in the progression of that condition as well. They found RNA evidence of decreased levels of the protein beclin 1 in the hippocampus of schizophrenia patients, a brain region central to learning and memory. Beclin 1 is central to initiating autophagy — its deficit suggests that the process is indeed blocked in schizophrenia patients. Developing drugs to boost beclin 1 levels and restart autophagy could offer a new way to treat schizophrenia, the researchers say.

Tags: brainchemistryschizophrenianeuronsneuroscience

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-02
+1
Very interesting and new topic. Autophagy is also a new field in biology and hopefully more discoveries are coming. Great to have a fresh look Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-02
+0
Scientists have been working for decades toward discovering the cause of schizophrenia. Now, this new research may provide further clues in particular about a molecular process that may contribute to the development of the disorder. Great work!
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-02
+0
Indeed, since there is no objective test for schizophrenia, its diagnosis is based on an assortment of reported symptoms. The standard treatment, antipsychotic medication, works less than half the time and becomes increasingly ineffective over time. Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-02
+1
The investigators say that their new discovery may lead to the development of new diagnostic tests for the disorder, as well as new drug treatments. This is a big step forward.
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-02
+0
This may be very relevant for other mental conditions and disorders. Neuroscience is making a good progress Reply
Reply
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