Mental health disorders, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are biological diseases with genetic underpinnings just like cancer or other genetically linked diseases, according to scientists at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
“The disorders have environmental influences and environmental factors, just like cancer or any other disease, but they also have genetic origins,” said Brittany Lasseigne, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of HudsonAlpha President Richard M. Myers, Ph.D.
Lasseigne and HudsonAlpha senior scientist Kevin Bowling, Ph.D., presented genomic research on psychiatric disorders to a group of more than 30 Alabama mental health professionals from across the state today at the Montgomery Mental Health Center. Bowling and Lasseigne spoke about the application of genomics to psychiatric disorders and HudsonAlpha’s studies of gene expression in bipolar and schizophrenic brains.
“These disorders are biological diseases with genetic underpinnings,” Lasseigne said, “so we believe that identifying the molecular alterations, or genetic mutations, that result in psychiatric disorders will lead to more effective treatments in the future.”
HudsonAlpha is a long-standing member of the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Disorders Research Consortium that is seeking to discover the neurobiological and genetic causes of three major psychiatric disorders: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The Pritzker Consortium also seeks to identify biomarkers and novel targets for drug development.
The work of the consortium is revealing more about the genetic components of psychiatric disorders, which will impact how people with mental illness are treated clinically.