Aug. 17, 2004 Scientists at the Babraham Institute have made significant advances in understanding schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental illness which has been estimated to affect over 1% of the population and costs the NHS over £2.5 billion per year. Babraham scientists have pinpointed a breakdown in mitochondria – the power stations of the cell – as a key factor.
The discovery, described in an article published in Molecular Psychiatry, was made by a team of scientists working in Dr Sabine Bahn’s research group at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge. The large-scale, multi-disciplinary approach has identified differences in the expression of genes related to energy production between schizophrenia patients and unaffected people.
The team studied tissue from over 100 brains and screened over 22,000 genes. Dr Bahn comments: “This study is the most extensive study of its kind so far, and we believe its multi-tier, complementary approach has provided surprising and convincing data. We hope that our findings will lead to advances in treatment, diagnosis and hopefully prevention of schizophrenia and related illnesses.”
The Babraham Institute, located just south of Cambridge, UK, is an educational charity focussed on delivering science of the highest quality that will add significantly to knowledge and find applications in the biomedical, biotechnological and pharmaceutical sectors. The work described was funded by the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Bethesda USA, and was carried out in conjunction with scientists at the University of Cambridge, the Human Genome Mapping Project – Resource Centre (Cambridge), as well as collaborators from the Stanley Laboratory for Brain Research (Bethesda, USA) and John’s Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA).
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