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expert reaction to research suggesting the same regions in brain are vulnerable to Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia

A paper published in the journal PNAS has reported their findings that the pattern of brain abnormalities associated with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease is similar, though the former usually develops earlier in life, and the latter is associated with ageing.

 

Dr Michael Bloomfield, Academic Clinical Fellow and Honorary Clinical Lecturer in Psychiatry at the MRC Clinical Sciences, London and University College London, said:

“This is a fascinating and large study that links changes in the brain to two potentially devastating conditions, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease – which together affect the lives of millions of people worldwide.

“The really interesting thing about this paper is that it finds similarities between the patterns of changes seen in both schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s as this fits with a very old idea about schizophrenia, which was initially viewed as a “precocious dementia”.

“Schizophrenia can be potentially devastating but at the moment it’s very difficult to predict with certainty who is going to have a good prognosis and who might have a poor one. This study brings us a step closer to being able to make this prediction, so patients could in the future receive better targeted treatments.  Another potential implication of this research is that it may be possible to understand how to prevent some of these brain changes before they happen.  However, much more research is needed into how to bring these exciting discoveries into the clinic.”

 

‘A common brain network links development, aging, and vulnerability to disease’ by Douaud et al. published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on Monday 24th  November.

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