How a schizophrenia risk gene affects the brain

first_imgShare on Twitter Share Pinterest Share on Facebook LinkedIncenter_img Scientists have for the first time shown how the disruption of a key gene involved in mental illness impacts on the brain.The discovery could be used in the future to help develop psychiatric drugs.The DISC1 gene is a risk factor for a number of major mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. Email Brain imaging studies have already revealed that these illnesses involve alterations in both the structure and connectivity of the brain.Genetic studies of several generations of one Scottish family affected by these psychiatric illnesses have revealed these are connected to the disruption of the DISC1 gene, though it is not clear how.For the first time, neuroscientists have shown that the disruption of this key risk gene significantly modifies the organisation of functional brain networks.Lead researcher Dr Neil Dawson from Lancaster University said: “Our data strongly suggest that disruption of DISC1 is a key molecular event that can contribute to the emergence of disease-relevant alterations in brain function”.“Through these studies we have been able to define deficits in brain function and functional connectivity that result from the disruption of DISC1 and are relevant to a range of psychiatric disorders.”He said these included schizophrenia-related alterations in brain function, functional brain network connectivity and the functioning of the glutamate neurotransmitter system.These findings parallel alterations seen in the brains of schizophrenia patients and could pave the way towards the development of new drug treatments.The research is published in Nature’s Translational Psychiatry.last_img read more

Electricity from food scraps and manure: Massachusetts’s first biogas facility to be dedicated this month

first_imgThe first of five farm-based biogas plants that convert manure and food scraps into electricity for hundreds of homes will be dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, May 31st at the Jordan Dairy Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts.Governor Deval Patrick will join local farmers and other project partners to officially open the plant that helps solve several problems for the state’s dairy industry: it will allow farms to better manage their manure, lower their energy and operating costs, and sell electricity to the grid to provide a new source of revenue. (One cow will create enough electricity to power a single home for a year.)advertisementadvertisement Along with farm manure, the facility’s anaerobic digester will also recycle food scraps and residue from food manufacturers that would normally end up in landfills, and convert it to energy and organic fertilizer. Hood, Kayem, Cabot and Cains have signed contracts to supply food scraps to the plant, and buy renewable power from the farm company formed to manage the venture — Agreen Energy.This unique project is the culmination of a 10-year dream by local dairy farmers and Agreen who developed a first-in-the-nation business model. quasar energy group perfected the made-in-US technology, and New England Organics, a division of Casella Waste Systems, will operate the facility. Coordinated state and federal energy and permitting policies also played a major role in making the facility possible, including the creation of the first pathway to permit smaller farms to use digesters as a business.For an earlier report by CNET on the project, view the video below.—From Casella Waste Systems news releaselast_img read more