OCT 25, 2019 8:28 AM PDT

Success in Treating Schizophrenia in Mice

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Approximately 3.5 million people in the US have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Although various therapies are available to treat and manage the illness, so far, there is no cure (Smith, 2019). From experimenting on mice, however, researchers from Columbia University have not only found that a gene previously linked to schizophrenia, known as SETD1A, is a likely precursor for the illness, but also a way to possibly alleviate its effects. 

In their study, the researchers genetically engineered mice to have a malfunctioning version of SETD1A, an enzyme-coding gene, and then tested them on key traits linked with schizophrenia. From their results, they found that the mice with the faulty genes tended to make mistakes on tasks where they navigated a maze to receive a reward. Furthermore, they found deficits in their working memory too- the ability to hold information and then retrieve it to guide their behavior- an impairment also found in schizophrenic patients. 

Further studying their brains, the researchers then found that the faulty gene disrupted their neuronal networks, reducing the capacity of their neurons to communicate. For example, they found that it both stunted the growth and branching of cell extensions and reduced the number of spines on them; these needed to transfer chemical signals from neighbouring cells into electrical impulses (Anderton: 2019). 

Beyond simply affecting a singular process, the researchers further found that the faulty SETD1A gene also disputed the regulation of many other genes with which it interacted. They found that whole classes of other genes were either under-expressed or over-expressed, depending on how they interacted with SETD1A. 

To see how to remedy the effects of this faulty gene, the researchers experimentally introduced a healthy SETD1A gene into the mice, something that restored their working memory. Next inhibiting the expression of a gene called LSD1, known to counteract SETD1A, they managed to correct all of the mice’s behavioural and neuronal abnormalities. Although the brains of mice somewhat differ from those in humans, the researchers nevertheless suspect that many of these functionalities may have been preserved throughout evolution and so may also be present in humans. 

According to Joseph Gogos, the leader of the study, “Although SETD1A mutations exist in a small percentage of all schizophrenia patients, many people diagnosed with the disorder have issues similar to those caused by this mutation. Thus, therapies that are specific to SETD1A may indeed have wider implications for schizophrenia as a whole (National Institute of Mental Health”: 2019).”

 

Sources 

 

Smith, Melinda: Help Guide
Anderton, Kate: Medical News

National Institute of Mental Health: Science Daily 

 

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
FEB 16, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Genetic Tests That Look for Rare, Disease-Causing Variants are Usually Wrong
FEB 16, 2021
Genetic Tests That Look for Rare, Disease-Causing Variants are Usually Wrong
While people carry mostly the same genes, there are small differences in the sequences of those genes that can have prof ...
MAR 06, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Green Tea Extract Can Affect Facial Development in Kids With Down Syndrome
MAR 06, 2021
Green Tea Extract Can Affect Facial Development in Kids With Down Syndrome
Individuals with Down syndrome often have certain facial features. New research has suggested that green tea supplements ...
MAR 21, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Adding Evidence to the RNA World Hypothesis
MAR 21, 2021
Adding Evidence to the RNA World Hypothesis
Did life originate with RNA? Scientists are still trying to learn more about how the first molecules arose out of primor ...
APR 05, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Understanding Why Redheads Perceive Pain Differently
APR 05, 2021
Understanding Why Redheads Perceive Pain Differently
People with red hair, as well as some animals that have red fur, carry one variation of a gene called melanocortin 1 rec ...
APR 12, 2021
Microbiology
New Lyme Test Can ID The DIsease Early
APR 12, 2021
New Lyme Test Can ID The DIsease Early
Lyme disease is a disease that is caused by four main species of bacteria, including Borrelia burgdorferi, which ar ...
APR 22, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Home Genetic Tests That Can Tailor the Best Cannabis Strains for You
APR 22, 2021
Home Genetic Tests That Can Tailor the Best Cannabis Strains for You
Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is claimed to be as individual as our fingerprint or iris, with different cannabis ingr ...
Loading Comments...