Mental ailments are among the most difficult to manage, primarily because medical experts have almost no understanding of the factors that cause them to manifest. Schizophrenia is one of such ailments.

   Because an understanding of the causes of this disease can change treatment options for the better, medical experts have prioritized identifying the factors which cause schizophrenia. And it looks like Michal K. Stachowiak has added another piece to the puzzle that could change treatment approaches to the disease. Working with a team from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Stachowiak thinks he has unearthed an important secret about the manifestation of schizophrenia.

genetic-battleWhat We Know?

   The medical arena doesn't know nearly as much as one might expect about schizophrenia. Medical experts will tell you that the illness causes delusions and hallucinations, not to mention erroneous thoughts. They will also tell you that the disease is hereditary, or at the very least it runs through families.

   Schizophrenia definitely has genetic origins. Some medical experts have uncovered what they believe to be genetic mutations that they have linked to an increase in the risk of schizophrenia. However, some of this research is yet to receive proper validation from the medical community.

   Stachowiak and his colleagues from the University at Buffalo took into account the genetic origins of schizophrenia when carrying out their study, with the results being published in the Schizophrenia Research journal. Their efforts were focused on an abnormal gene pathway called nuclear FGFR1.

Deregulated nFGFR1 Pathways

   If you know nothing about medical science, then words like nFGFR1 mean nothing to you. Here is what you need to know. Stachowiak wanted to know if processes taking place during the earliest developmental stages could affect one's risk of manifesting schizophrenia. He was specifically interested in the genomic processes taking place in utero.

   To acquire answers, the study author and his team took skin cells from two groups of adults. One group consisting of four adults had schizophrenia. The other group did not have the disorder. The collected skin cells were turned into neuronal progenitor cells.

   Neuronal progenitor cells are responsible for forming neurons during early development. Stachowiak studied these cells in order to analyze early brain development in people struggling with schizophrenia.

   The study concluded that, in people with schizophrenia, the genes associated with the disorder had been targeted and mutated by an abnormal gene pathway (nFGFR1) which, in turn, debilitated proper early brain development.

   Fighting schizophrenia has always been difficult because medical experts keep finding new mutations in people who have the disorder. Stachowiak's work suggests that a common abnormal gene pathway might sit at the center of schizophrenia manifestation.

Outcome

   This study isn’t simply a means of satisfying medical curiosity. Stachowiak believes that new drugs could be developed and given to expectant mothers whose babies have a potential risk of suffering from schizophrenia. Fighting schizophrenia in patients while they are still developing as fetuses might be easier than fighting the disorder in adult patients.