(Great Neck, NY June 3, 2008) -- New findings from research supported by NARSAD, the world's leading charity dedicated to mental health research, and conducted by Harvard-affiliated scientists are providing important clues into how genes work to impair various aspects of attention, memory and perception -- the behaviors associated with many psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.
Presented at NARSAD's 3rd annual Boston Mental Health Research Symposium on May 30 at the Harvard Medical School, the studies shed new light on how specific genes contribute to the susceptibility to and pathology of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, some of the most severe, chronic and disabling mental illnesses that collectively affect an estimated 40 million Americans. Coming at a time when some treatments for mental illnesses are a matter of trial and error, these findings have relevance in the development of novel therapies targeted to specific patients and to specific genes.
Donald C. Goff, M.D., director of the Schizophrenia Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and a leading researcher on the role of genetics in the development of new treatments for schizophrenia, moderated the discussion.
Folate as a Cause and Treatment for Schizophrenia: Who Will Benefit?
Do genes explain why some people with schizophrenia are helped when they take supplements of the common B vitamin, folate? The answer is yes and now, new NARSAD funded research is examining the reasons why.
According to Dr. Goff, whose pioneering research identified a link between low blood levels of folate and negative schizophrenia symptoms, folate is involved in many different chemical pathways in the brain, including keeping levels of the amino acid homocysteine low. When homocysteine levels are too high, this interferes with the functioning of receptors located all over the brain -- called
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NARSAD, The Mental Health Research Association