Friday, March 15, 2013

Un Poco Loci: Genetic Ties to Mental Disorders

In their efforts to better understand and more accurately diagnose mental conditions, a recent article from states that researchers discovered that there may be a close genetic link between several psychiatric disorders in what they refer to as genetic “risk factors.” Specifically, the targeted psychiatric disorders included autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia.

After analyzing the genomes of more than 30,000 people each with one of the these five psychiatric disorders, and almost 28,000 people with no mental health issues, scientists found that single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at four loci displayed variations seen in people with the five psychiatric conditions.

Scientists say knowing that these psychiatric conditions share genetic risk factors could help doctors better diagnose  and treat these conditions.
“Our results provide new evidence that may inform a move beyond descriptive syndromes in psychiatry and towards classification based on underlying causes,” said Jordan Smoller of Massachusetts General Hospital who worked on the study."

More information on the actual study can be found at The Lancet.

What I find fascinating about this article is that from outside of the view of genetics these disorders already seem to have some relations to one another. If you have ever met a person with any of these disorders you may see certain parallels in their expressions that mimic other mental disorders. Probably the most obvious at least to myself, would be the sense of confusion all must feel. But to now see these disorders are displayed on shared loci give us a bigger picture on the smallest of scales of genetic disposition rather than just a “loose screw”.

No comments:

Post a Comment