Scientists at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have made a major breakthrough in understanding the specifics and biology of schizophrenia. Their breakthrough, which was published in the journal Nature, has pioneered a new age of understanding and research about this disease. The principal investigator, Dr. Daniel Geschwind, and his team used a brand new type of technology commonly referred to as chromosome conformation capture to further investigate their questions and claims.
Some background knowledge on this disease needs to be known ahead of time in order to understand the extent of their fabulous work. Prior to the team’s findings, not much was known about schizophrenia from a biological perspective and its origins. What was most well known by most was that this disease is highly genetic and until 2014, no one knew why. 2014 being the first major breakthrough with this kind of work. Scientists found a link between 100 different DNA variations located on several distinct locations on the human genome and schizophrenia. The details between exactly how they were link being a bit fuzzy.
Using this knowledge as their baseline, the team started digging into the depths of the unknown. Before starting, they obtained human fetal cortical tissues from several different individuals who were at different gestation periods. The intricate and elaborate system they used chemically marks and maps where looped chromosomal DNA meet. By doing this, they could find the schizophrenia linked sites that contact gene’s known for brain development. There were several genes found that were found in previous studies but the new ones discovered made the study take an interesting turn. These new genes were found to connect to cell receptors that were triggered by neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It was theorized that increases in this neurotransmitter worsen the schizophrenia symptoms but it wasn’t actually confirmed until this study.
These scientists have found several hundred genes that were previously unknown. Though no solid facts and evidence came from this study, they took a big step in the right different. Dealing with the brain can be a tricky concept but thanks to these scientists, we’ve taken a step in the right direction to further understand the workings of our brains.
Before I even started rewriting this article I knew it was going to be very difficult to write. Overall, the original article was simple and relatively easy to understand but I had gotten very confused once I read the actual journal from the research study. The content was difficult to comprehend and most of it didn’t make sense to me. Honestly this made it hard to figure out where to start. So I tried to use the same technique that was used in the article and I gave background information. Personally, that helped me better understand the information. The only piece of information that I added that wasn’t in the article was a sentence or two about the sample size that was being used. I thought it was very hard to figure this out since I could barely understand anything in the journal. Mainly though, I took out a bunch information that I thought was needed so my summary was relatively shorter than the first article. It’s hard to choose which one I like better but I guess it would have to be the first article. I thought that the author did a very good job with their article and putting all of the essential information into simple terms that made everything easy to understand. They did make theirs somewhat long but I think that it really worked out since there was so much information to cover. I think that journalists who write about psychology deserve more credit because they have to write about some difficult topics and I think that they do great jobs of making it easily understandable.
Won, Hyejung, et al. “Chromosome Conformation Elucidates Regulatory Relationships in Developing Human Brain.” Nature, vol. 538, no. 7626, 2016, pp. 523–527., doi:10.1038/nature19847.