February 29, 2008

Publication: Evening Herald

Date: Thursday, February 28, 2008 Page: 28

Author: Conor Feehan

Headline: New gene discovery offers hope for mental condition

New gene discovery offers hope for mental condition Irelands schizophrenia sufferers can hope for improved treatment for their condition with the discovery of a gene which has helped doctors to gain a better understanding of the illness. The discovery of the gene, associated with severe schizophrenia, was made when up to 2,000 Irish people, including 270 families, took part in an indepth study which found that environmental as well as genetic factors were at play in the development of the condition.

Dr Tony O'Neill, from the Department of Psychiatry at Queen's University Belfast, was part of the team who identified the gene, called MEGF1.. "The discovery helps piece together the complex picture underlying risk of schizophrenia and offers the hope of more successful interventions in the future," said Dr O'Neill. It has been discovered that smoking cannabis is a risk factor to developing schizophrenia, and that medical difficulties during pregnancy can also have an effect. Schizophrenia is associated with disturbed thinking and hallucinations. It typically starts in late adolescence.