Psychiatry

Over 100 Variants Found to Influence Psychiatric Disorders

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium have discovered that many distinct psychiatric diseases share a common genetic basis. More than 100 genetic variants were found to play a role in determining risk levels for different mental health conditions.

Treating Autism and Tourette’s with Ketamine: A Potential Treatment?

Researchers at Lancaster University have been the first to discover a genetic alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorder and Tourette Syndrome, as published in the journal Cerebral Cortex. Their findings suggest that ketamine, or related drugs, may be a useful treatment for both disorders.

Left or Right? Look to Your Genes

The largest genome wide association study (GWAS) to date on handedness has identified nearly 50 new variants and provided interesting insights into disease predispositions including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Lack of Diversity Harms Schizophrenia Studies

Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious mental health conditions, with a 1% global lifetime risk. By gathering data from a non-European population, a study published in Nature Genetics has discovered that there are differences in genetic associations with schizophrenia that differ across ancestries.

Depression Biomarker Could Enable Precision Medicine Treatments

A new biomarker that can identify depression patients experiencing a lack of motivation could be used to tailor anti-depressant drugs to patients, depending on the specific symptoms of the disease they display. Depression is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in the world and affects about 9% of the US population. However, as less […]

Alcohol Abuse Leaves Epigenetic Marks in Brain

Alcohol has been found to directly contribute to epigenetic markers in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory. It is therefore possible that stopping epigenetic marker deposition could be a promising therapy to treat alcohol addiction. Epigenetic markers are chemical modifications on DNA bases that alter the expression of genes without editing the […]

Second Gene Mutation that Lets People Survive on Less Sleep

A new gene that enables people to survive on much less sleep has been identified. Most people require at least eight hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation can lead to multiple negative health impacts, including heart diseases and depression. However, some people have genetic variants which allow them to feel fully rested after only […]

The Genetics of Suicidal Behaviour

Suicide is UK’s leading, and silent, cause of death for young people aged 20-34 years. Rona Strawbridge, UKRI Innovation, has used the population genomic data from the UK Biobank in an effort to find the genetic association of psychological condition phenotypes such as depression.  She will be discussing her work at the upcoming Festival of Genomics. […]

Targeting Immune Cells Could Offer Potential Alzheimer’s Therapy

Targeting the immune cells in the brain could slow down the onset of Altzheimer’s, a new study has shown. The build-up of tau protein in the brain can be indicative many neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s. Once the tau starts to clump together, tissue damage begins to become visible. However, until recently the link between protein […]

Anxiety Can Disrupt Mitochondrial Function

Anxiety is a serious mental disorder characterized by panic attacks and a strong emotional response to stress. It can be initiated by stressful life events, such as bereavement, divorce and conflict. It is known that some people are more susceptible to anxiety than others, as not all who experience stressful life events necessarily experience anxiety. […]

Genetic Basis for Being Left Handed Identified

Being left-handed could be down to differences in brain architecture, a new study has shown. Only 10% of the population are left-handed, as has been the case for thousands of years, but previous studies have struggled to identify the reasons behind this. Using data from the UK Biobank, the genomes of 400,000 people, including 38,332 […]

Environmental Pollution Linked to Psychiatric Disorders

Higher levels of environmental pollution correlate with higher incidences of a range of mental disorders, a new study has identified. The researchers looked at populations in both the US and Denmark. In the US study, the levels of environmental pollution were determined from air, water and land quality measurements, in addition to population density and […]

Alzheimer’s Drug Reverses Harmful Effects of Teenage Drinking in Rats

An Alzheimer’s drug that is used to slow cognitive decline can reverse the brain damage caused by teenage drinking, shows a new rat-based study. Adolescent brains are more susceptible to alcohol damage than adult brains. Excessive teenage drinking reduces the formation of neurons in the hippocampus which impairs learning and memory. The damage can also […]

Alternative Cause of Alzheimer’s Discovered

Alzheimer’s has previously been understood to be caused by a build up of protein plaques in the brain. However, new research has revealed that alternative metabolic pathways in the brain may be more integral to the formation of the disease. The plaques are formed by proteins known as beta-amyloid and tau. As Alzheimer’s progresses the […]

Smartphone Used to Manipulate Brain Cells in Mice

Scientists have developed minimally invasive brain probes that can selectively deliver drugs in-vivo and stimulate cells with light. The probes can be wirelessly controlled from a smartphone. It is hoped that the probes will advance understanding of neurodegenerative disease by allowing the manipulation of brain circuits. Delivering drug infusions into the brain has previously been […]