Schizophrenia is a common yet poorly understood condition believed to be caused, in part, by genetic mutations. The two year project, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), builds on previous research at Leeds that suggests the existence of a genetic mutation, possibly causing an inherited form of the illness.
"If we can confirm which specific genes and processes are at fault, we can start to develop new treatments to target them," says lead researcher Dr Steve Clapcote from the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences. "Our study is important because medicines currently used to treat schizophrenia aren't effective in about a third of patients and can also cause severe side effects," he added.
The £400,000 MRC grant funds a team of University of Leeds academics including biologist Dr Clapcote, geneticist Professor Chris Inglehearn and psychiatrist Dr Alistair Cardno, both from the University of Leeds' School of Medicine, and consultant psychiatrist Dr Tariq Mahmood of Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust.
The team will initially be working with families from the Pakistani community of West Yorkshire, most of whom are the children of settlers from the 1950s. "We tend to find a smaller range of genetic mutations when individuals marry within a close-knit community, but it also means that we see certain mutations more often," says Professor Inglehearn. The team believe that this new approach will allow them to narrow the search to uncover which mutated genes have been inherited that might cause the development of the illness.
"In recent genetic studies of schizophrenia, researchers have usually studied large groups of unrelated people, looking for small increases in disease risk in a broad range of genes," says Dr Clapcote. "This new research uses a simpler approach, by working with a much smaller group of related patients," he explains.
The Leeds team has already tried this approach in one family, producing compelling evidence of the presence and location of a mutation on chromosome 13 which may cause a 'simple' genetic form of schizophrenia. They found that a child who inherits two copies of this mutation - usually from consanguineous marriage (marriage between cousins) - is more likely to develop the illness.
Previous research had suggested the existence of such a gene, but with vague and varied suggestions as to its exact location. Dr Clapcote believes that the team's preliminary work should make it easier to confirm and locate the gene involved. If successful, they plan to apply the new gene discovery approach to other families with multiple cases of schizophrenia. The identified genes may include suitable targets for new drugs, which the team is hopeful will treat the causes of the disease, not just the symptoms, and with fewer side effects.
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000
Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
Eric Blair, Adrian Whitehouse, Nicola Stonehouse, Alison Baker, Richard Bayliss, Joan Boyes, Ryan Seipke, Sally Boxall and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £376,000
Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
Roman Tuma, Lars Jeuken, Paul Millner, Sheena Radford, Peter Stockley and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £222,000
Vas Ponnambalam, Darren Tomlinson, Stephen Wheatcroft, BHF (May 2017), £107,878
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £52,116
Mary O'Connell, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £46,986
Hannah Dugdale, NERC (Feb 2017), £504,138
Anastasia Zhuravleva, EPSRC (Jan 2017), £100,792
Richard Bayliss, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2017), £1,600,000
John Barr, EU (Jan 2017), £339,000
Mark Harris, Royal Society (Jan 2017), £250,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Jan 2017), £105,000
Alex Breeze, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (Jan 2017), £180,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2016), £18,000
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Dec 2016), £1,681,835
Brendan Davies, Leverhulme Trust (Dec 2016), £247,555
Alan Benson, Mark Drinkhill, Ed White, British Heart Foundaion (Dec 2016), £217,223
Adrian Goldman, Royal Society (Dec 2016), £82,999
Lisa Roberts, Alex Breeze, Brendan Davies, Timothy Devinney, Oliver Harlen, Joseph Holden, Anthea Hucklesby, Pamela Jones, Philip Mellor, RCUK (Nov 2016), £484,172
Lisa Roberts, Alex Breeze, Brendan Davies, Timothy Devinney, Oliver Harlen, Joseph Holden, Anthea Hucklesby, Pamela Jones, Philip Mellor, Wellcome Trust (Nov 2016), £119,343
Katie Field, Rank Prize Funds (Nov 2016), £20,000