Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Schizophrenia discovery opens path to new treatments

Schizophrenia has been linked to a split protein, opening a path to a new class of treatments for the common mental illness.
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It was once thought - wrongly - that sufferers have a "split personality" but now, researchers at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, VIB, and University of Leuven have discovered that faulty snipping of a protein called neuregulin, or Nrg-1, lies at the basis of the development of the disease.

Greater understanding of this molecular process is a first step toward improved diagnosis of the one in 100 people who suffer from the delusions, hallucinations and disturbed thinking and more effective treatment of schizophrenia and other related disorders.

Up to now, no clear cause of schizophrenia has been found, although hereditary factors certainly play a role along with living and working conditions, with the condition being more common in urban dwellers and younger people.

However, previous scientific studies have suggested that faulty functioning of the Nrg-1 protein plays a role.


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