Some of the experts are in search for schizophrenia’s genetic roots. They are getting closer to the actual causes of the devastating mental illness.
Researchers have informed the public regarding their ongoing observation of the biochemical bases that generate schizophrenia in people. The first such study that delves right into the basics of the disease has offered a variety of clues.
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Over two million Americans have the disease. Among some of the signs of the severe mental illness are false beliefs called delusions and fake signals to the five senses which are termed hallucinations.
The current list of drugs that deal with the psychological sickness may suppress some of the symptoms but they do not heal the disease on a fundamental level.
The evil is not nipped in the bud and remains a thorn in the side of the patient who has unfortunately contracted it. The recent finding was published in the journal Nature.
It will lend clues as to what the nature of the disease really is. A more comprehensive and thorough treatment is unlikely just now. Nor will there be tests for this disease of the mind.
But a sort of framework will be established within which to find a cure for schizophrenia. Its management will be easier once we see the fruits of this research effort.
Schizophrenia has always puzzled psychiatrists. It eludes analysis. This bizarre and strange illness also causes a lot of suffering to those who are in its grips.
The fact that it begins in adolescence or among young adults means that it whisks away the sufferers at the exact time when their practical lives are about to take off.
Such is the tragedy of this accursed illness. The genetic triggers that lead to a bout were examined. The findings have made all the difference between ignorance and knowledge of the ailment.
It is indeed in the genes, as they say. The risk of contracting schizophrenia increases due to a process known as synaptic pruning. This is the brain’s methodology of discarding weak or useless links between neurons. And it comes about due to maturation.
During the critical period of life that is youth, the pruning occurs in those areas of the brain responsible for rational thinking and future planning. This is the prefrontal cortex. Those with a genetic susceptibility are liable to become schizophrenics.
"Since schizophrenia was first described over a century ago, its underlying biology has been a black box, in part because it has been virtually impossible to model the disorder in cells or animals," said senior study author Steven McCarroll, director of genetics for the Stanley Center and an associate professor of genetics at Harvard Medical Schoo.
"The human genome is providing a powerful new way in to this disease. Understanding these genetic effects on risk is a way of prying open that black box, peering inside, and starting to see actual biological mechanisms."
"This study marks a crucial turning point in the fight against mental illness," said Bruce Cuthbert, acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
"Because the molecular origins of psychiatric diseases are little-understood, efforts by pharmaceutical companies to pursue new therapeutics are few and far between. This study changes the game. Thanks to this genetic breakthrough we can finally see the potential for clinical tests, early detection, new treatments, and even prevention."
The pruning is where the whole process goes topsy turvy. The acceleration of the cutting activity of neurons leads to the disease in the first place.
There are those who admit that the study is still in its infancy and ought to be taken with a grain of salt. But others are more optimistic and hopeful regarding the scope it has for the treatment of this malady.
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While synaptic pruning is key in the issue, other genes and proteins are responsible too for the expression of the disease. The future is all about the development of drugs that will counter the disease at its very core thereby leading to a return to normality and reality for the patients.