An article from MedicalXpress.com describes the findings of a group of researchers from Duke University regarding the genetics of schizophrenia. The scientists were investigating a gene called Arp2/3, which is believed to play a role in normal brain growth and development. The group removed Arp2/3 from mice models to assess its role in brain function. When this was done, the mice exhibited some of the symptoms normally associated with schizophrenia, including impaired growth of neurons, hyperactivity in some parts of the brain, and high concentrations of dopamine in the brain. The finding gives some evidence that dysfunction of this gene is related to human schizophrenia. When the exact role of the gene Arp2/3 in normal brain function is more clearly understood, it may lead to better treatments for people diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Many people are occasionally concerned about whether their memory troubles are an early sign of Alzheimer's disease or just normal age-related changes. An article from the St Louis Post-Dispatch gives a great summary of the difference between normal aging and more serious memory deficits. The main consideration is how significant the information you have forgotten is. If it is something minor, then it might not be as worrisome. If you forget something that you have known for a long time, like the name of your spouse or what your car keys are used for, then you should see a physician.
RCCS, Inc. offers free memory screening in partnership with the Alzheimer's Foundation of America to anyone who is concerned about whether or not their memory troubles are normal for their age. Whether it's just to put your mind at ease or to get the early diagnosis that is so crucial to improving later outcomes, memory screening is an important thing for people with worries about their memory to get done.
This News-Medical.net article shows that patients with bipolar disorder have a shorter-than-average life expectancy. The effect is most pronounced in young people, and the gap in life expectancy shrinks as age increases. The study authors say the results reinforce the idea that young people diagnosed with bipolar disorder have poor outcomes because they are prone to self-injurious behavior and suicide. This finding highlights the need for better treatments for bipolar disorder symptoms, particularly for depressive episodes when patients are more prone to self-harm.
This article from MedicalXpress.com discusses a recent finding by Chinese and Australian scientists about Alzheimer's disease. They discovered a neuroprotective protein that is deficient in people with Alzheimer's symptoms. The relationship between the deficient protein and Alzheimer's disease may be strong enough to use the concentration of this protein in the brain to diagnose early onset Alzheimer's. By re-introducing the protein into the brains of mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, the behavioral effects of the disease were reversed. The protein may also inhibit amyloid-B aggregation, which is believed to be one of the main causes the neurodegeneration which is a hallmark of the disease.