Genetics of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia [ 2006 - 2008 ]

Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof Assen Jablensky (Principal investigator) ,  Prof Johanna Badcock Prof Luba Kalaydjieva Prof Kenneth Kendler Dr Brien Riley
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Brief description Schizophrenia affects, on average, 1% of the population over a lifetime and accounts for 2.6% of the global burden of disease and disability, according to a joint study by the World Health Organization and the World Bank. It is a complex disorder involving both genetic and environmental risk factors, but the specific causation remains poorly understood. People with schizophrenia experience symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, distorted perception of reality, and progressive loss of motivation, which disrupt personal development. Recent research demonstrates that underlying cognitive impairments, affecting reasoning, memory, planning ability and information processing, are at the core of the disorder and account for a high proportion of these handicaps. In a study involving 112 families with members suffering from schizophrenia, Western Australian researchers carried out detailed investigations of brain cognitive functioning, coupled with a complete genome scan. They identified, in about 50% of these families, a variety of schizophrenia characterized by multiple cognitive deficits, which turned out to be linked to a particular segment of chromosome 6. It was exactly in the chromosomal region where US investigators had previously found genetic linkage with the symptoms of schizophrenia in a large series of Irish families. In this project, the Western Australian and US teams, together with a group of Dutch researchers, will embark on a joint search for the gene (or genes) on chromosome 6, contributing to cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. They will assess a further large series of patients and controls, and conduct molecular genetic studies aiming to pinpoint the specific gene defect or variant. If successful, the project will have far-reaching implications for defining novel drug targets and treatment strategies for this disabling disorder.

Funding Amount $AUD 799,552.27

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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