Scientists have discovered that there is a tremendous amount of overlap between autism, depression, and other mental disorders.
In a potentially groundbreaking new discovery that could lead to better diagnoses and treatments, scientists have determined that a variety of mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression are linked by genetics, and may be more common than thought. These disorders are different from brain diseases like Alzheimers, which cause physical changes to the brain, and as a result can be harder to detect.
Scientists were able to use genetic analysis to find patterns in gene expressions in different individuals with mental disorders. They did this by measuring the RNA in 700 tissue samples from people who had disorders like autism or bipolar disorders and even alcoholism, and compared it to groups of people who did not.
They found that gene expressions were similar across mental disorders, and were able to spot patterns shared between the groups. It is an important discovery with major implications in the medical community.
“These findings provide a molecular, pathological signature of these disorders, which is a large step forward,” said senior author Daniel Geschwind, a distinguished professor of neurology, psychiatry and human genetics and director of the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment. “The major challenge now is to understand how these changes arose.”