Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have uncovered for the first time molecular circuitry associated with schizophrenia that links three previously known, yet unrelated proteins.
“This is very exciting because until now the many known genetic factors implicated in this condition were not connected in any way,” says Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D.. “Now, through a cross-disciplinary and cross-departmental collaboration, we not only have figured out how these three proteins interact with each other, we also have found patients who carry mutations. These results give us a really good foundation to dig deeper into such an elusive condition…”
“Serendipity brought us together from the far corners of campus and allowed us to see the links between these three proteins, centrosomes, and schizophrenia,” says Katsanis. So they embarked on a collaboration to see if these coincidental observations would lead to a better understanding of schizophrenia…
They found “a connection which is exactly the sort of daisy chain from gene to disease that psychiatrists pray for,” says Cascella. “This is a molecular pathway that we can potentially target for drug therapy.”
“We are beginning to sub-stratify psychiatric illness into discrete molecular causes,” adds Katsanis. “Now that we know that that a subset of schizophrenia is related to centrosomes and these associated proteins, we can start looking at broader questions of how people get psychiatric illness. We have a hook, now we can start fishing.”
It’s a bare bones of a beginning of what may prove to be fruitful research – leading to aid for patients and their families. Because these researchers happened to carry their work around in their conversations.
Yes, there is some value to being fascinated with your own work.