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Latest Study Suggests Schizophrenia Begins in the Womb

Update Date: Mar 01, 2017 07:30 AM EST

Scientists reveal that the cause of schizophrenia is about to be determined as they uncover an abnormal genetic process that can be associated with the disease, that most likely begins in the womb. Through the process of transforming the skin's cells of patients with schizophrenia into neuronal progenitor cells, scientists have managed to identify an abnormal pathway called nuclear FGFR1 (nFGFR1) that contributes into the abnormality in the brain.

Medical News Today reports that their recent findings, reveals that the early impairment of the brain development, a condition that may lead to schizophrenia can start in the womb as the cell that forms neurons in the early development of a child change.

The study was led by Michal K. Stachowiak, Ph.D., of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo in New York. This discovery also brings their research closer to treatments that could prevent schizophrenia early in the uterus.

Washington Post further elaborates that the study was conducted by collecting skin cells from 4 adults with schizophrenia and 4 adults without the disorder. The skin cells were then reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells to be able to be differentiated into neuronal progenitor cells. This allowed the researchers to process the early brain development in people who has schizophrenia.

It was identified that the dysregulated nFGFR1 pathway mutates and targets numerous genes associated with schizophrenia. This specific gene mutation can impact brain development.

In the United States alone, 1.1 percent of adults have schizophrenia. This mental health disorder is characterized by hallucinations, abnormal thoughts, and delusions. This data was gathered from the National Institute of Mental Health in the US. The exact cause of schizophrenia remains to be unclear and has always been treated as a disease with a genetic origin.

This recent study implies that uncovering the genetic mutations inside the womb can help in predetermining the possibilities of schizophrenia at an early stage and can even offer the possibilities of finding an early cure.

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