On August 31, 2023, researchers from a top-tier research institution have just unveiled an exciting piece of research that might change how we look at a mental disorder called schizophrenia. For those unfamiliar, schizophrenia affects how people think, feel, and act. This research was published in the ‘Neuron’ journal, and the dedicated scientists behind this study have used mice to understand the disorder better. If you’re curious about the finer details, you can dive deep by reading the full research here.
First up, every person has a set of genes that determine everything from our eye color to how tall we’ll be. In this study, the scientists found a gene named GRIN2A. Think of it as a tiny instruction booklet inside our bodies. But, if there’s a typo or error in this booklet (or gene), it might increase a person’s chances of having schizophrenia. To study this, researchers looked at mice that had this specific gene error.
Brain Gene Expression
Imagine if some parts of your computer’s system started behaving differently. Just like that, the researchers observed that these special mice showed changes in how their brain genes worked. The brain has different cells, some which pass on messages (think of them as the brain’s email system) and others that help out. Both these types of cells in these mice were acting differently than normal, indicating that the gene error was having a wide effect on their brains.
You know how when you’re studying, sometimes you’re super focused, but other times you’re easily distracted? Similarly, these mice had certain parts of their brain that were super active, while others were, let’s say, slacking off a bit. Their ‘thinking’ part was less active, but the parts related to memory and movement seemed like they’d had a bit too much coffee!
Have you ever felt really good after eating your favorite food or playing your favorite game? That’s dopamine, a chemical in our brain, giving us those good vibes. These mice with the gene error had a lot more of this ‘feel-good’ chemical in their movement area. This made them react strongly to a drug that generally gets animals moving a lot more.
Cholesterol isn’t just something doctors talk about; it’s essential for our bodies. But, too much or too little can be an issue. The brain has supporting cells called astrocytes, like helpers. These mice had some problems with how these helper cells were making cholesterol.
Let’s say brain cells chat using a special language. One of the main words they use is ‘glutamate.’ But these mice had a problem. They weren’t ‘listening’ well when this word was used, especially at the places where brain cells meet to chat.
Movement vs. Medication
Here’s a fun fact! When scientists gave these mice medicines that are usually given to treat schizophrenia, their movement was the exact opposite of what’s expected. It’s like being told ice cream will cool you down but feeling hotter after eating it.
Why is all this mouse stuff cool and important? Well, these mice are helping scientists understand what might be going on in the brains of people with schizophrenia. By figuring this out, doctors and scientists can come up with better ways to help people with this disorder. Plus, some of the things found in this research are like pieces that fit into what we already know about schizophrenia, while some are entirely new clues.
Remember, every time we learn something new, we get one step closer to solving big problems. With research like this, there’s hope for a brighter and clearer future for everyone. So next time you see a mouse, maybe give it a nod of thanks for its tiny contribution to science!
Read more news on our website!