Tuesday, 31 Jul, 2007 Science

Schizophrenia Mouse Grown to Find a Key to Mental Health


Scientists found a new way to explore schizophrenia by developing a mouse model that will have all the symptoms of this complex brain disorder.

Mouse model of schizophrenia is the first animal model created for research purposes. The mouse is genetically changed to have the behavioral patterns and anatomical changes that happen when a person suffers from this disorder.

Earlier, Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience together with other researches discovered the DISC1 gene that is now believed to have a major impact on the development of schizophrenia. This gene is short for schizophrenia sufferers and normally is responsible for nerve cells to have the right place in the brain. The short form of DISC1 protein was introduced to the normal one thus changing the regular state.

Mice that grew up with a modified gene were noticed to be more anxious, were not orienting good enough to find food, and couldn't swim long enough. They also had trouble with smell and were indifferent which is characteristic for schizophrenia patients.

Screening showed changes in mice's brains as one of the brain structures called lateral ventricles was bigger than in normal state.

Researchers say that schizophrenia mouse model could be of greater help to millions of patients suffering from schizophrenia. They have the opportunity to study the impact of numerous factors that may interfere with this mental disorder.

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