BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A husband-and-wife team of psychiatrists at the University at Buffalo has received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct one of the first major population-based studies aimed at finding the gene or genes that may be linked to schizophrenia.
Carlos N. Pato, M.D., and Michele T. Pato, M.D., UB associate professors of psychiatry, are principal and co-principal investigators, respectively, on the project. They have been building the project for seven years in the Azores, a group of nine islands located off the coast of Portugal that comprise a Portuguese state and where most inhabitants are descended from a few families.
Both researchers hold adjunct appointments with the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, which is collaborating on the project. Also involved are James L. Kennedy, M.D., head of the neurogenetics section at Clark Institute of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, who is a co-principal investigator, and Eric Lander, Ph.D., of the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research, which will perform a genome-wide scan and collaborate on all data analysis.
"Psychosis is a complex syndrome, the most common form of which is schizophrenia," Carlos Pato said. "In at least 20 percent of cases of schizophrenia, other family members are also affected with the illness, but genetics may play a role in an even greater percentage. Our study will try to determine how often the illness and a particular gene, or genes, are seen together. If we can find the gene that causes the illness and then find the product of that gene, we can begin to design more effective treatment."
About 1 percent of the world's population is afflicted with schizophrenia, a mental illness characterized by symptoms such as deterioration of personality, disordered thinking, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia or catonia. The main form of treatment is antipsychotic drugs, which mus
Contact: Lois Baker
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