More hope for better diagnosis of major psychiatric disorders


More hope for better diagnosis of major psychiatric disorders

Gene expression is the process by which instructions in DNA are converted into a product such as a protein

Gene expression is the process by which instructions in DNA are converted into a product such as a protein

While most physical disorders, such as cancer or diabetes, have well-defined indicators seen in tissues, organs, and bodily fluids, mental disorders are often more hard to diagnose as they are typically identified by thought patterns and behaviors rather than biological pathology.

However, in this study, scienitsts were able to take advantage of recent advances in the field of genetics to spot patterns of how genes express themsleves in the brain that are linked to such disorders. From this, they found that some psychiatric disorders share global gene expression patterns.

"These findings provide a molecular, pathological signature of these disorders, which is a large step forward", said Daniel Geschwind from the University of California, Los Angeles in the US.

"The major challenge now is to understand how these changes arose", Geschwind said.

They analysed the RNA in 700 tissue samples from the brains of deceased subjects who had autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder or alcohol abuse disorder, comparing them to samples from brains without psychiatric disorders.

The new findings, published on Science magazine Friday, could lead to better diagnoses and treatments of these psychiatric disorders.

Scientists have found that brain disorders such as autism, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia may be far more common than we realize, a startling find that suggests potentially millions of people are living with undiagnosed mental illnesses.

"So, although now we have some understanding of causes, and this new work shows the consequences, we now have to understand the mechanisms by which this comes about, so as to develop the ability to change these outcomes".