Latest research has found out how genetic alterations can massively influence the development of the brain and nerve cells which in turn control our mental health. A huge consortium of scientists from all over the world is participating in the research and it is already showing huge potential to unravel the mysteries of our nervous system. If successful, the study will be able to launch new cures for nervous diseases like Alzheimer, Schizophrenia and epilepsy.
The study involved MRI scans and genetic samples provided by over 30k volunteers from different countries being analyzed by the qualified team of doctors. The talented team constitutes of 300 reputed scientists from 193 reputed institutions.
They focus largely on the parts of the brain that governs the functions like movement, cognitive skills and memory. These are the most sensitive areas which get affected in case of the sufferers of neurological diseases. Putamen, an area in the centre of the brain was found to be the zone which got easily corrupted by genetic variations. This region also largely controls daily movement and when affected leads to diseases like Parkinson’s disease.
The scientists have isolated 5 genetic variations which create a negative impact on the growth of the brain cells. One particular variation alters the shape and size of hippocampus which is the centre of learning. This was found to be the leading cause for Schizophrenia. These findings are very important because they help us to understand the long unknown reasons behind neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration.
The research is a crowd sourced project with an enormous number of people being involved in it. It also has taken into account a massive amount of information and there was a lot of cooperation needed between the working members. The expense was also a mind numbing figure but it was made feasible due to funds from institutions across the globe. Two prominent benefactors of the research are the Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board. The project got highlighted in the Nature for its futuristic potential and magnitude.
The project is now famously called ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta Analysis). An alarming percentage of adult population suffers from neurological diseases and the consequences are damaging for both the individuals and the society. The project has received praise and support from unexpected quarters. At present talks are on about implementing the findings in order to develop better treatment for the neurological diseases.