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What's this? Bipolar and/or Autism? Interesting.

Posted May 13 2009 11:39pm
One of my SPED students is diagnosed as being high functioning autistic and bipolar. What a great discovery if they are related and sometimes are often twin diagnosis.

Optimism For Bipolar Disorder And Schizophrenia If Psychiatrists Abandon 19th Century Dogma, Uk

Nineteenth century thinking about schizophrenia and bipolar disorder must be abandoned if psychiatry is to progress, said a leading UK psychiatrist. At a meeting of the Biochemical Society, Professor Nick Craddock from Cardiff University urged his profession to embrace the opportunities offered by new research methodologies.

Advanced technology and the large sample sizes in research have led to unprecedented advances in the identification of specific genetic risk factors for psychiatric disorders as recently as the last two years. "For more than 100 years there has been a widespread assumption that bipolar disorder (manic depression) and schizophrenia are completely separate diseases. Recent evidence, particularly from molecular genetics, shows the situation is not so simple. Some of the susceptibility genes are shared," he said.

Strong genetic associations have been reported in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Emerging data provide a powerful resource for exploring the relationship between psychiatric characteristics. "This new knowledge will help to explain why some people receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia at one time and bipolar disorder at another time and why some receive a mixed diagnosis - so called 'schizoaffective' disorder," he said.

It is already clear that, in general, genetic associations are not specific to one of the traditional diagnostic categories. For example, one gene variation (ZNF804A) is associated with risk of both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and some rare 'copy number' variations are associated with the risk of autism and epilepsy as well as schizophrenia. "There is an urgent need to think beyond diagnostic "boxes" and consider how variations in brain biology and function lead to the huge range of clinical variations seen in people with psychiatric diseases," said Professor Craddock.

Whilst many family and twin studies have demonstrated the importance of genetic factors influencing susceptibility to bipolar disorder, only recently have research technologies started to identify these risk factors. It is, according to Professor Craddock, a successful start to a long journey.

"We know that there are many genes involved in bipolar disorder. Two such genes have been strongly implicated in recent studies of over 10,000 individuals," he said. The action of both genes is thought to be through effects on the basic control of the excitability of nerve cells. Although not of immediate clinical use, this new understanding will open up new avenues for research and should ultimately lead to improved treatments.

Professor Craddock concluded, "This is a time of rapid progress in bipolar disorder research. Those with illness can be optimistic for the next generation."
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