Researchers Suggest Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia Are Results of Evolutionary Change


In a recent study published in The American Journal of Human Genetics, scientists discovered long stretches of tandem repeats that could affect calcium transport making certain individuals more susceptible to neuropsychiatric diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Neurological diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder affect 3% of the worlds population. Researchers suspect that recent evolutionary changes impacting genes that control brain size, connectivity, and function have resulted in an increase in the occurrence of neurological diseases. Utilizing the standard reference genome, this study identified variations in the DNA that regulates the function of an important calcium channel gene, CACNAC1, which was previously linked to psychiatric disease. The variability of these long stretches of DNA could give insight into an individual’s susceptibility to psychiatric disease and response to pharmaceutical therapies.

For more information, a short summary can be found on Science Daily.   The complete research article, " Characterization of a Human-Specific Tandem Repeat Associated with Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia" by Janet H.T Song et al. is published in The American Journal of Human Genetics.

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