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GENE VARIANTS AND SUSCEPTIBILITY TO SCHIZOPHRENIA

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

  • Recently, a pilot study on a south Indian group of people with schizophrenia was carried out by Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) and Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation.
  • The paper shows an association between Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) variations and schizophrenia.

Details

  • Earlier studies indicate that different variants of specific genes (these variants are called alleles) may be involved in different ethnic groups.
  • The paper adds a valuable piece of information, on the relation between immune response genes and schizophrenia.
  • The researchers also studied the type of amino acid present in the peptide binding groove of HLA molecule and compared it among patients and controls, finding a significant difference.

What was found?

  • HLA is important for proper functioning of immune system and its variations can lead to immunological abnormalities.
  • When the immune system acts up, as in autoimmune disorders, generating anti-NMDA receptor antibodies, for example, it can lead to schizophrenia

Schizophrenia

  • Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by continuous or relapsing episodes of psychosis.
  • Major symptoms include hallucinations (often hearing voices), delusions (having beliefs not shared by others), and disorganized thinking.
  • Other symptoms include social withdrawal, decreased emotional expression, and lack of motivation.
  • There is no objective diagnostic test; diagnosis is based on observed behavior, a history that includes the person’s reported experiences, and reports of others familiar with the person.
  • The mainstay of treatment is an antipsychotic medication, along with counselling, job training, and social rehabilitation.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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