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Gene Linked to Schizophrenia Identified

Scientists may have discovered the genetic process that triggers schizophrenia. The team led by Harvard Medical Institute geneticist Steve McCarroll analyzed the genome of nearly 65,000 people and identified which genes are associated with the disease. Among the individuals analyzed, 28,799 were schizophrenic. The researchers investigated a part of human DNA that had previously been related to evil in previous studies. The work was published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.


Scientists have discovered that the main factor that results in schizophrenia is a phenomenon called synaptic pruning, a process of cutting synapses (communication between neurons) that aims to

eliminate foreign or poorly used cells. The gene responsible for a dysfunction in this activity makes the phenomenon happen more often than normal. According to Thomas Lehner, director of the genomic research laboratory at the US Mental Health Institute, although the decrease in synapses is common, schizophrenics are extreme. "It goes so far as to reduce the volume of gray matter and to damage the regions of the brain linked to emotional control."

There is, therefore, a strong relationship between the development of the disease and the presence of a variation of the C4 gene. The proteins expressed by this variation of the gene activate a process that triggers excessive synaptic pruning. Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that hinders the distinction between real and imaginary experiences, interferes with logical thinking, emotional responses and expected behavior in social situations. It is a chronic disease that requires lifelong treatment.


 Source: Nature, January 2016

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