NARSAD-Funded Research Breakthrough Could Improve Treatment of Schizophrenia

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Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D.
Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D.
Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D., NARSAD Independent Investigator at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, led a team of researchers in identifying a gene mutation strongly linked to schizophrenia.

A recent breakthrough in schizophrenia research by NARSAD Independent Investigator Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D., is advancing the search for better treatments for this brain and behavior disorder.

Dr. Sebat and his team pinpointed a specific mutation of VIPR2 that indicates a high risk for developing schizophrenia. VIPR2 has been found to play a role in learning, memory and circadian rhythm in mice. VIPR2 is expressed in the nervous system, including in the brain, blood vessels and gastrointestinal tract. The gene's link to schizophrenia could mean new targets for therapies, and new therapies themselves.

"Suddenly all the information we have about the gene produces hypotheses that could lead to better understanding of schizophrenia and the pharmacology of the gene." Dr. Sebat said. "This will raise the possibility of personalized genomics and personalized treatments." And Dr. Sebat is most excited about finding new drugs for better treatments - not different targets for existing drugs - that would be "custom-tailored for this specific group of patients."

Dr. Sebat's NARSAD Grant kick-started the genome studies that were part of replicating this important finding, enabling Dr. Sebat and his colleagues to screen 10,000 samples for the gene mutation.

More on this breakthrough:

Article in LA Times

NPR All Things Considered Interview with Dr. Sebat

University of California San Diego News Release

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Please note that researchers cannot give specific recommendations or advice about treatment; diagnosis and treatment are complex and highly individualized processes that require comprehensive face-to- face assessment. Please visit our "Ask an Expert" section to see a list of Q & A with NARSAD Grantees.
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