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Inside the Lab Genetics and epigenetics, Neurology, Precision medicine, Bioinformatics, Omics

Searching for Schizophrenia

With symptoms that vary in degree or frequency and significantly overlap with other conditions, mental illness can be hard to identify – let alone definitively diagnose. But for at least one such disorder, scientists from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet are tackling the problem with a combinatorial approach.

The researchers blended their understanding of brain cellular taxonomy (the different cells of the brain and the genes used by each cell type) with the genomic loci implicated in schizophrenia in a successful attempt to identify which specific cell types might be associated with the condition (1). Their discovery? That the genes commonly altered in schizophrenia are consistently associated with pyramidal cells, medium spiny neurons (MSNs), and some types of interneurons. Furthermore, not all mutations are equal; the changes that affect MSNs are separate to those affecting pyramidal cells and interneurons, meaning that each cell type may play a different role in the disease process.

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