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Scientists Identify Gene Mutation Linked To Schizophrenia

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Aired 2/3/11

Researchers at UCSD have identified a gene mutation they say is strongly linked to schizophrenia. Scientists says people who have the mutation are much more likely to develop the brain disorder.

Jonathan Sebat, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has identified a gene mutation strongly linked to the brain disorder – and a signaling pathway that may be treatable with existing compounds.

Above: Jonathan Sebat, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has identified a gene mutation strongly linked to the brain disorder – and a signaling pathway that may be treatable with existing compounds.

— Researchers at UCSD have identified a gene mutation they say is strongly linked to schizophrenia. Scientists say people who have the mutation are much more likely to develop the brain disorder.

The gene is known as VIPR2.

Researchers found the link between mutations of VIPR2 and schizophrenia, by comparing the genomes of more than 15,000 people. Those who had the gene mutation were 14 times more likely to have the disease.

Lead researcher Jonathan Sabat is an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSD. He said VIPR2 is a good target for drugs.

"Scientists can develop molecules that inhibits its activity," Sabat said, "and we think that that kind of a drug, might be therapeutic in individuals that have a VIPR2 mutation."

Scientists have long thought schizophrenia has a strong genetic component. Environmental factors may contribute, as well.

Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic brain disorder. Symptoms can include hallucinations and delusions.

The disease affects about one percent of the population.

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