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Studies elucidate genetic links between cancer and schizophrenia
Date:12/8/2007

Boca Raton, FL, December 8, 2007 A series of studies presented today at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) annual meeting elucidates evidence that there is a genetic link between schizophrenia and cancer, providing a surprising possible scientific explanation for lower rates of cancer among patients with schizophrenia despite having poor diets and high rates of smoking and their parents.

Researchers at the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) emphasize that many of the genes associated with schizophrenia are the same as the genes associated with cancer, but that the cells that have these genes use them in opposite ways in the two disorders. While cancer results from changes in the genes that cause cells to go into metabolic overdrive and multiply rapidly, those same genes cause cells in schizophrenia to slow to a crawl.

We found that many of the same genes are involved in schizophrenia as in cancer, but in a yin and yang way. This will provide critical insight into the molecular structure of schizophrenia, said lead researcher and ACNP member Dr. Daniel Weinberger of NIMH. Some of the genes showing this yin-yang effect include NRG1, AKT1, PIK3, COMT, PRODH and ErbB4. While these genes cant be used to predict exactly who will develop these diseases, Dr. Weinberger says they can be used to help determine risk.

Dr. Amanda Law of the University of Oxford, who heads one of the teams working at the NIMH, explored specific genetic pathways that cells use to make basic decisions about their development and their fate.

This is about basic decision making by cellswhether to multiply, move or change their basic architecture, says Dr. Law. Cancer and schizophrenia may be strange bedfellows that have similarities at the molecular level. The differences lie in how cells respond to external stimuli: in cancer the molecular system functions to speed up the cell and in schizophrenia the system is alte
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Contact: Sharon Reis
sreis@gymr.com
202-745-5103
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Source:Eurekalert

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