Schizophrenia Gene Discovered

In the not too distant future new tests and new anti-psychotic drugs (“designer drugs” rather than “trial and error drugs”) for schizophrenia will likely be developed in the US because of the following new findings.

At the 19th International Congress of Genetics in Melbourne/Australia (July 2003) the Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Susumu Tonegawa, who had won the 1987 Nobel Prize for Medicine, reported about his new discovery of a gene that controls schizophrenia. This has already been studied extensively in mice by the research team that he is heading (from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge/Mass).

Together with other colleagues from other Centers (Duke University, Rockefeller University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons) they have developed an animal model, a “schizophrenic mouse”, that is defective for the schizophrenia gene. Researchers had found that an enzyme called “calcineurin” was missing in schizophrenic families where genetic defects could be located in one particular gene. Subsequently this type of gene was also shown to be important for the normal brain metabolism in mice. The detection of a mouse model for schizophrenia has made it much easier to do ground-breaking research in the field of schizophrenia. Dr. Tonegawa said that the existing drugs for schizophrenia were developed by trial and error. In some patients these drugs do not work, in many others they have serious side-effects. He stated further that in future there will be a new class of anti-psychotic drugs with minimal side-effects as they will specifically normalize the calcineurin production.

Schizophrenia Gene Discovered

Anti-psychotic designer drugs

This in turn will normalize the derailed brain metabolism. In schizophrenics it is in this area where the psychotic behavior originates due to a lack of normal calcineurin production. This enzyme is found not only in brain tissue, but also in immune cells such as the T lymphocytes throughout the body. Because of this connection a future modern treatment for schizophrenia will likely normalize the brain metabolism, but also have beneficial effects on the entire immune system.

Here is a link to a review of schizophrenic disorders

Last edited October 26, 2014