Researchers develop first potential schizophrenia genetic animal model

John johnhkm at
Sat Sep 4 05:31:41 EST 1999

Researchers develop first potential schizophrenia genetic animal model

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The first potential genetically engineered animal model
for schizophrenia -- a long-term, disabling mental illness afflicting 1.5
million U.S. residents -- has been created by University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill scientists collaborating with Duke University researchers.

Their achievement promises to boost research into the heartbreaking illness
and eventually improve drug therapy and other treatments, the scientists

"You can't diagnose mental illness in mice, and so we can't say definitely
that these mice actually have schizophrenia," said Dr. Amy R. Mohn, who
earned a genetics doctorate at UNC-CH and became a postdoctoral fellow at
Duke in January. "We can say, however, that they display behaviors
consistent with schizophrenia and should be very useful in studying it."

A report on the research appears in the Aug. 20 issue of the journal Cell.
Besides Mohn, a UNC-CH Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology
graduate, authors are Drs. Beverly H. Koller, research assistant professor
of medicine at the UNC-CH School of Medicine; Marc G. Caron, James B. Duke
professor of cell biology at Duke; and Caron's postdoctoral fellow Raul R.
Gainetdinov, a visiting Russian scientist.

"What's interesting about this mouse is that we have targeted a
neurotransmitter receptor that has been implicated in the disease but has
not been the chief focus of schizophrenia research," Mohn said. "Most recent
previous research has looked at a transmitter called dopamine, but our paper
describes the importance of what's called the NMDA receptor."



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