It's the first time these molecules, which are associated with the disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) protein linked to mental disorders, have been identified. The scientists developed new tools involving stem cells to determine chemical reactions the proteins use to influence cell functions and nerve growth in people.
"This moves science closer to opportunities for treatment for serious mental illness," said Marcelo P. Coba, the study author and professor of psychiatry at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Findings - Biological - Psychiatry
The findings appear in Biological Psychiatry.
Schizophrenia affects less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, but has an outsized impact on disability, suicide and premature deaths.
DISC1 - Gene - Years - Cells - Neurons
The DISC1 gene was linked to schizophrenia nearly 20 years ago. It controls how nerve cells called neurons develop, as well as how the brain matures. DISC1 also directs a network of signals across cells that can contribute to the disease. Scientists say errors in these chemical reactions contribute to schizophrenia.
But the identity of proteins that DISC1 can regulate is poorly understood, prompting the USC researchers and colleagues from the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center to undertake the research. The challenge was to simulate conditions inside the human brain,...
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