Same Genetic Basis Is Found in 5 Types of Mental Illness
By GINA KOLATA
The psychiatric illnesses seem very different -- schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, major depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Yet they share several genetic glitches that can nudge the brain along a path to mental illness, researchers report. Which disease, if any, develops is thought to depend on other genetic or environmental factors.
Their study, published online Wednesday in the Lancet, was based on an examination of genetic data from more than 60,000 people world-wide. Its authors say it is the largest genetic study yet of psychiatric disorders. The findings strengthen an emerging view of mental illness that aims to make diagnoses based on the genetic aberrations underlying diseases instead of on the disease symptoms.
Two of the aberrations discovered in the new study were in genes used in a major signaling system in the brain, giving clues to processes that might go awry and suggestions of how to treat the diseases.
“What we identified here is probably just the tip of an iceberg,” said Dr. Jordan Smoller, lead author of the paper and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “As these studies grow we expect to find additional genes that might overlap.”
The new study does not mean that the genetics of psychiatric disorders are simple. Researchers say there seem to be hundreds of genes involved and the gene variations discovered in the new study only confer a small risk of psychiatric disease.
Steven McCarroll, director of genetics for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T., said it was significant that the researchers had found common genetic factors that pointed to a specific signaling system.
“It is very important that these were not just random hits on the dartboard of the genome,” said Dr. McCarroll, who was not involved in the new study.
The work began in 2007 when a large group of researchers began investigating genetic data generated by studies in 19 countries and including 33,332 people with psychiatric illnesses and 27,888 people free of the illnesses for comparison. The researchers studied scans of peoples’ DNA, looking for variations in any of several million places along the long stretch of genetic material containing three billion DNA letters. The question: Did people with psychiatric illnesses tend to have a distinctive DNA pattern in any of those locations?
Researchers had already seen some clues of overlapping genetic effects in identical twins. One twin might have schizophrenia while the other had bipolar disorder. About six years ago, around the time the new study began, researchers had examined the genes of a few rare families in which psychiatric disorders seemed especially prevalent. They found a few unusual disruptions of chromosomes that were linked to psychiatric illnesses. But what surprised them was that while one person with the aberration might get one disorder a relative with the same mutation got a different one.
And still nothing for my fibromyalgia. It hurts to type it hurts, damnit. I'm weeping as I do it.
Centuries ago, some societies considered people who had "madness in the family" to be disqualified from marriage and breeding.
Maybe they were on to something.
[quote]Centuries ago, some societies considered people who had "madness in the family" to be disqualified from marriage and breeding.
So gays are mentally ill then?
R1 actually the mutations of the MTHFR and p450 pathways which control methylation and detoxification seem to responsible for most "undiagnosable" pain conditions, chronic fatigue, etc. Medications and other toxins build up in the bodies of people with these defects and they are unable to process normal B vitamins so the toxins can't be flushed and continue to destroy the entire body system as they cycle through and the tissues can't be repaired because the person can't get proper nutrition because they can't methylate. Used correctly, this gene research will be able to cure everything.
If you like Gina Kolata, and gettin' caught in the rain....
My mother couldn't process B12 when she was old. Does that mean I'm at risk to psycho on your ass?
Wasn't aware ADHD and Autism were "mental illness"
I have all five of these in my family.
Before we as a society go too far down the path of genetic engineering, screening for these mutations and aborting fetuses that have them, we might want to consider some things.
Like, for example, Albert Einstein (Aspie), Bill Gates (Aspie), Van Gogh (Bipolar), Syd Barrett (schizophrenia), Kurt Cobain (Bipolar) Virginia Woolf (Bipolar), Woody Allen (Aspie) nearly every comedian (ADHD) and countless other people with these five related disorders that are not "neuro-typical" but contribute a special gift to the art, music, movies and literature that we all enjoy every single day.
r7. Who's aborting for ADHD and Autism?
Don't be silly/stupid.
r8 seriously? you do know about sex-selective abortion, right? you think if they develop a prenatal test for this mental illness gene that people won't electively abort over it?
r9. Be honest.
Do you use this "they will abort babies with the gay gene" in threads about abortion?
So, Woody Allen is an Aspie?
I've heard that his child bride was actually boderline retarded and bossed him around all day and night.
Or, perhaps she is an aspie too, but who could tell being that she's an oriental?
Fema fat farm matron, Lancaster Ca division
Autism used to be called juvenile schizophrenia
There's no proof any of those people were what you say and since most are dead, there's no way to prove it.
Hey Napoleon had a Napoleon Complex...
[quote][R8] seriously? you do know about sex-selective abortion, right? you think if they develop a prenatal test for this mental illness gene that people won't electively abort over it?
You are a moron. Yes, everything is a slippery slope, including same sex marriage. Let's toss science because of supposition, and I've never heard of any sex-selective abortion outside of China. So you must also be against abortion, since we can already test for a baby's sex inside the womb. We should stop that I guess, since people can abort with that knowledge.
Sorry, but if you want to abort due to gender or sexuality, that's your business. Why the fuck should I care?
Even if they find the gene sequences that causes all these problems, will they be able to do anything to help the people who already have these genes/mutations?
[quote] Wasn't aware ADHD and Autism
were "mental illness"
Did you think people caught them from dirty toilets?
Thanks for the link, OP. I'm a female with bipolar disorder and decided not to have kids because of my illness. It's good to see they're doing such great research.
" I've never heard of any sex-selective abortion outside of China"
I've heard of them in India, throughout the Islamic world, Eastern Europe, Russia, and elsewhere.
Einstein most likely was not an Aspie. Woody Allen is selfish and sexist, nothing Aspie about that.
I kinda like the dirty toilets thesis.
No one is going to abort for things like ADHD.
And people who claim they will are simply spouting "anti-choice" talking points.
Not anti-choice in the least. I completely support choice 100% up to 20 weeks gestation.
Don't support the idea of a society's cleansing of undesirable genes however, whether the methods are through genetic engineering at the egg/sperm level or abortion or genocide.
If you think sex-selective abortion is only happening in China, you don't live in Canada. It's a big issue here. See the link.
Obviously there are some disabilities, including a few linked to this particular gene, that can be devastating for families.
People can and do choose to end pregnancies based upon genetic information gleaned from neo-natal tests that can be performed as early as 11 weeks into a pregnancy. One of those is Trisomy disorders, including Downs Syndrome. This decision is culturally accepted whereas aborting for gender is not.
Between 80% - 90% of pregnant women who find out they are carrying a fetus with Downs Syndrome choose to abort (in the US Canada and the UK - don't know stats for elsewhere.) It's a high number, well out of step with the percentage of people ho claim to be "pro-life" and I think this just goes to show that you might not truly know your own feelings on abortion until you are faced with something like a Trisomy baby.
My feelings on this particular gene being identified neo-natally (and it is only a matter of time before it is) is that it may become the sort of thing that, like Downs, is a trigger for abortion that otherwise wouldn't have occurred. To each their own, again I am pro-choice.
But what will our society look like in 100 years if aborting for this gene (or other "undesireable" genes) became commonplace?
I agree that a huge percentage of artists, creatives, musicians, actors, technology leaders and innovators and scientific leaders do, in fact, carry this gene.
R14, the fat that your first sentence was "you are a moron" speaks more to your intellect than the guy you were addressing.
That you only know of China sex selecting the unborn, confirms it.
You just showed your ass here, and not in the good way.