Viviane Labrie, PhD and her collaborators at the Van Andel Reseach Institute (USA) found a cluster of epigenetic marks that ratchets up dopamine production while simultaneously scrambling the brain’s synapses, the information hubs that transmit rapid-fire neural messages responsible for healthy function. The result is a catastrophic shake-up of the brain’s organization and chemical balance that fuels symptoms of psychosis. « We now have a biological explanation that could help make a real difference for people with these disorders » Viviane Labrie explains.

This newly identified epigenetic hotspot for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may give scientists a fresh path forward for devising more effective treatments and biomarker-based screening strategies. « It is our hope that our findings may lead to new biomarkers to screen for risk, which would then allow for earlier intervention ».

The identification of new biomarkers is indeed the source of much hope. This path is the subject of research projects under axis 2 of Fondation FondaMental Suisse’ scientific programme: the establishment of a shared database and a joint biobank between Paris and Geneva.

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