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Mental Illness Gene

May 30, 2007

One gene may underlie two devastating mental illnesses.


One gene, two mental illnesses. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Schizophrenia and depression tend to run in the same families. Now, medical geneticist David Porteous at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and his colleagues have shown how a single gene may lead to one or the other. They bred two strains of mice, each with a different type of damage to the gene. One strain developed schizophrenia-like symptoms; the other, symptoms of depression. And each responded to different drugs.

DAVID PORTEOUS (University of Edinburgh):
The ones with the more schizophrenia-like behavior responded positively to the treatment with the antipsychotic, and those with the mood disorder responded to the treatment with the antidepressant.

Understanding the biology behind all of this may help scientists develop better treatments for human patients. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.