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Mar 29, 2007

miRNAs Implicated in Schizophrenia

  • In studying the postmortem brain tissue of adults diagnosed with schizophrenia, researchers found that levels of miRNAs were lower among schizophrenia patients than in persons who were free of psychiatric illness.

    "There is growing evidence that schizophrenia may relate to disordered synaptic plasticity," says the study’s lead author and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, professor of psychiatry Diana Perkins, M.D. "Our study found a striking significant difference in microRNA expression between people with schizophrenia and healthy people. Using bioinformatic analyses, we found that the distinguishing microRNAs appear to regulate genes involved in synaptic plasticity.”

    The researchers used postmortem, prefrontal cortical brain tissue of people with schizophrenia and persons who had no psychiatric illness. In the tissue from schizophrenics, 15 miRNAs were expressed at a lower level and one at a higher level.

    Acknowledging this was a pilot study, Dr. Perkins and her colleagues plan further research with larger tissue samples. The results appears in the online edition of the journal Genome Biology.



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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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