Major Mental Illnesses Unexpectedly Share Brain Gene Activity

(From Science Magazine)

A large-scale analysis of postmortem brains is revealing distinctive molecular traces in people with mental illness. This week, an international team of researchers reports that five major psychiatric disorders have patterns of gene activity that often overlap but also vary in disease-specific—and sometimes counterintuitive—ways. The findings, they say, might someday lead to diagnostic tests and novel therapies, and one has already inspired a clinical trial of a new way to treat overactive brain cells in autism.

Outsiders say the data mark a milestone in psychiatry. “This [work] is changing fundamental views about the nature of psychiatric illness,” says Kenneth Kendler, a psychiatric geneticist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

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