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sector_ico_Health_trans Health

Targeting the Synaptic Pathway in Neurodevelopmental and Psychiatric Disorders

  • Project Leaders: Ann Marie Craig
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $1500000
  • Program/Competition: Partner Programs
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2015
  • Status: Closed

Autism and schizophrenia affect over 1% of the population, and each has strong genetic associations with 60-90% heritability among twins. Recent research identified mutations in a shared genetic pathway in autism and schizophrenia, in genes that function to build synaptic connections between nerve cells, specifically in neurexin cell adhesion proteins and partners linked in a biochemical pathway. Mice with autism-associated mutations in neurexin pathway genes exhibit impaired social interactions and have been developed as single-gene models for exploring and treating autism. The main project goal is to study fundamental properties of the neurexin synaptic pathway in cell culture and animal models (fly and mouse) of autism, and to develop novel therapeutic agents to restore a balance in excitatory/inhibitory synaptic function.