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DNA Tie for Two Disorders: Genetic defects link psychiatric ailments

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may share more than a propensity for wreaking havoc on mental life. These severe psychiatric disorders, each of which occurs in about 1 in 100 adults, rest on identical flaws in a set of genes that produce a protective covering for brain cells, a new study suggests.

The critical genes are active in brain cells called oligodendrocytes, say neuroscientist Sabine Bahn of the University of Cambridge in England and her colleagues.

Oligodendrocytes produce fatty myelin molecules that coat brain cells and influence their transmission of electrical impulses.

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