A Step Toward Unraveling The Notoriously Tricky Mystery Of The Genetic Roots Of Psychiatric Diseases
In a sweeping set of studies, scientists looked at about 2,000 human brains from both healthy people and individuals with psychiatric diseases, including autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, hunting for insights on how those conditions develop.
The New York Times:
Mapping The Brain’s Genetic Landscape
For the past two decades, scientists have been exploring the genetics of schizophrenia, autism and other brain disorders, looking for a path toward causation. If the biological roots of such ailments could be identified, treatments might follow, or at least tests that could reveal a person’s risk level. In the 1990s, researchers focused on genes that might possibly be responsible for mental distress, but then hit a wall. Choosing so-called candidate genes up front proved to be fruitless. In the 2000s, using new techniques to sample the entire genome, scientists hit many walls: Hundreds of common gene variants seemed to contribute some risk, but no subset stood out. (Carey, 12/13)
With Data From 2,000 Brains, Studies Explore Psychiatric Diseases
But a sweeping set of studies published Thursday make a dent in that mystery, and shows the potential of big data and teamwork among many labs to unlock valuable clues. The 10 papers — appearing in Science, Science Translational Medicine, and Science Advances — are part of a unique, nationwide collaboration among more than a dozen research sites known as the PsychENCODE Consortium. (Thielking, 12/13)