Irish scientists find link between Motor Neurone Disease and schizophrenia

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and schizophrenia have been shown to have a shared genetic origin by a Trinity College Dublin (TCD) led study that has wide implications for research into and treatment of the illnesses.

The research found many of the genes that are known to be associated with MND and schizophrenia are the same, implying a biological connection between what are currently considered very different conditions.

Although previous studies had identified likely genetic connections between schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric illnesses like autism and bipolar affective disorder, this is first time a shared biological link has been identified with MND.

Earlier research in 2013 by a team led by Professor Orla Hardiman had noted that the families of those suffering from MND were also more likely to have had a family member die by suicide or have schizophrenia than those families where MND was not present.

This prompted the scientists to look in more detail for a biological link, in particular a genetic connection between MND and schizophrenia.

The researchers teamed up with other scientists at the University of Utrecht, Kings College London and the Project MinE and Psychiatric Genome Consortia.

Together they examined the genetic blueprints of 30,000 schizophrenia patients and 13,000 people with MND or ALS as it is also known.

The results, published in the journal Nature Communications, show an overlap of 14%  in genetic susceptibility to the adult onset of MND and the development of schizophrenia.

The team says this does not mean that those with MND will develop schizophrenia, or vice versa – more that MND is not only a disorder of individual nerve cells, but a disorder of the way the nerve cells communicate either individually or over neural pathways and networks.

“So instead of thinking of ALS/MND as a degeneration of one cell at a time, and looking for a ‘magic bullet’ treatment that works, we should think about ALS/MND in the same way we think about schizophrenia,” said Professor Orla Hardiman, Professor in Neurology at TCD and Consultant Neurologist at the National Neuroscience Centre at Beaumont Hospital.

“It is a problem of disruption in connectivity between different regions of the brain and we should look for drugs that help to stabilise the failing brain networks”.

The team also says that the findings show that the divide between neurology and psychiatry is a false one.

“This study demonstrates the power of genetics in understanding the causes of diseases,” said Dr Russell McLaughlin, Ussher Assistant Professor in Genome Analysis at TCD.

“While neurological and psychiatric conditions have very different characteristics and clinical presentations, our work has show that the biological pathways that lead to these diverse conditions have much in common.”

The findings could have implications for future treatment of MND/ALS, suggesting drugs that focus exclusively on motor neurons may not be the right approach and that looking at drugs that impact the brain network might be better.

“We welcome these new findings and hoped this will be one step towards developing new drugs that will help to stabilise these brain networks and ultimately prevent the progression of MND in our families,” said Aisling Farrell, CEO of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Article taken from RTE News

Summer Gala Ball Event Date:

An evening not to be missed in the Headfort Arms, Kells, Co Meath on Friday 23rd June in aid of the IMNDA. Summer Ball MC’d by Miriam O’Callaghan with music from Ronan Collins and his band. Prosecco reception, delicious meal and auction and raffle on the night.

Tickets are now on sale for just €75.00 from the IMNDA Online Shop or by contacting Micky on 086 3601338 or John 087 2248503.

Cheltenham Preview Night Event Date:

If you a horse racing fan and are looking for a fun night with Cheltenham Racing tips then look no further! On Thursday, March 9th at 8PM there is a Cheltenham Preview Night in the Cherrytree Bar in Walkinstown in aid of the IMNDA. (more…)

Sometimes Silence Speaks Volumes

Press Release

Sometimes Silence Speaks Volumes

Imagine an hour…a day….a week without speech. Imagine not being able to say ‘I love you’ this Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately that is the fate met by most people living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). (more…)

The Croke Park Abseil Event Date:

The Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association dares you to take part in the Croke Park Abseils!

Experience the ultimate adrenalin rush and abseil 100ft from the roof of Croker’s famous Hogan Stand. Be a Croke Park Hero! (more…)

Walk to D-Feet MND 2017 Event Date:

Walk to D-Feet MND! This summer, the IMNDA is hosting its 5th ‘Walk to D-Feet MND’. Come together with friends and family and join us in the picturesque grounds of Castletown House in Celbridge, Co Kildare on Saturday 15th of July at 12pm to join our walk in aid of Motor Neurone Disease. (more…)

Drink Tea for MND! Event Date:

Drink Tea for MND!!!

As you know every year since 1997, the MND community worldwide has marked 21st June as the global day of recognition of ALS/MND – a disease that affects people in every country of the globe. (more…)

Events Calendar 2017

The IMNDA would not be here without the wonderful support we receive each year. Please checkout some of the events that will take place in 2017 and helps us to continue providing care and support to families affected by Motor Neurone Disease. (more…)

Brain Awareness Week 2017 Event Date:

Brain Awareness Week 2017 takes place from the 6th – 12th of March. National Brain Awareness Week is an annual initiative co-ordinated by the Neurological Alliance of  Ireland (NAI) aimed at increasing public awareness of neurological conditions.  (more…)

Easter Hamper Raffle 2017 Event Date:

Support the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association this Easter!

Easter Sunday

16th April 2017

Easter Weekend is approaching & the IMNDA is offering beautiful Easter hampers (containing Butler’s chocolate eggs, bar, bunny & a chick!) for you to display and raffle in your local pub/shop/club/ workplace etc. the busier the location, the better!! (more…)