NARSAD Grantee Identifies New Pathway to Treat Schizophrenia

Stanislav Zakharenko, M.D, Ph.D., St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Expert in Schizophrenia
Stanislav Zakharenko, M.D, Ph.D.

NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee, Stanislav Zakharenko, M.D, Ph.D., along with colleagues in his laboratory at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has identified a molecular pathway that may play a role in schizophrenia. Their study, which may result in new treatments for the illness, was published in the October 10th issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Their results came from looking at a rare genetic disorder known as 22q11 deletion syndrome. Since 30 percent of people with this disorder develop schizophrenia, studying the disorder allows researchers a unique glimpse into changes in the brain that occur during schizophrenia.

Carrie Bearden, Ph.D., a NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee and expert on 22q11 deletion syndrome at the University of California, Los Angeles (who was not involved with the study), said "this study makes some very important discoveries about the precise mechanisms underlying the learning and memory deficits seen in the genetic mouse model—problems that are a central part of the human disease. Pinpointing the specific gene involved is the first step toward developing targeted therapies that could reverse the cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia, both in the context of this genetic mutation and the broader population."

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