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Study Reports Schizophrenia Could Be Detect Through the Nose

Update Date: Apr 30, 2013 10:38 AM EDT

Diagnosing and treating mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, are often difficult because the symptoms are so widespread. Some people with schizophrenia might not present the same symptoms as another person, making it hard to monitor the condition within society. Researchers have attempted to understand schizophrenia by analyzing the brain makeup of the disorder. Although studying the brain works to a certain extent, it can only be done with an autopsy of the brain, which defeats the purpose of early detection. Current researchers aim to find ways of detecting the illness early on through biological means. According to a new study, collecting tissue from the nose could be a new method in detecting schizophrenia.

The research team, composed of Dr. Noam Shomron and Professor Ruth Navon from Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Ph.D. student, Eyal Mor from Dr. Shomron's lab, and Professor Akira Sawa from John Hopkins Hospital, devised a new technique with the possibility of creating a physical diagnosis for schizophrenia. The researchers gathered the nose tissues from people already diagnosed with the mental illness and from people who did not have the disorder. Through the use of a high-throughout technology, the researchers were able to study the microRNA of the tissue samples. Based on the fact that a specific kind of microRNA appears to be highly elevated in schizophrenic people, the researchers believe that this microRNA could be a detector of the illness.

"We were able to narrow down the microRNA to a differentially expressed set, and from there down to a specific microRNA which is elevated in individuals with the disease compared to healthy individuals," explains Dr. Shomron. Ideally, this particular microRNA could be an identifier of the illness. However, the team stated that more research would need to be done in order to find the link between that microRNA and the genes association with the illness.

The study was published in the journal, Neurobiology of Disease.

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