Sunday, March 19, 2017

Week 7

Both of these papers are very exciting. Most of the papers we've read have not been so recent ( Burrows being 2015) and the questions being asked in both papers seem much more innovative and relevant. Ayhan's exploration of DISC1 and the genetic basis for schizophrenia is an interesting follow up to last weeks conversation on schizophrenia. To identify and manipulate a gene which results in behavioral changes as well as effects on brain volume and density is incredibly exciting. To also have these results be dependent on what stage of neurodevelopment the manipulation takes place, only further aligns the results with the pathology of schizophrenia. Although the authors acknowledge the need for further explorations and the need for a more precise study of the gene at different developmental stages, this experiment is a great start to a new approach at exploring the underlying causes of schizophrenia. By identifying target genes and exploring their effect, we can begin to understand the different mechanisms at hand and the complex matrix of genetic interactions at play.

Burrows paper continues on this theme, utilizing a framework that I am greatly in favor of. Burrows explores the environmental impact on the genetic factors of schizophrenia. This may be due to how new the paper is, but it aligns with the same conversations we've been discussing in class about the legitimacies of animal models, especially when studying complex, human diseases. We know that environment affects phenotype so how do we include that when creating animal models for the disease? I think this study design was very innovative, using the prior knowledge of the glutamatergic systems implication in the development of schizophrenia and translating that into a study design that uses an enriched environment to study these effects, versus a traditional approach such as the direct stimulation of neurons etc.

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