Saturday, April 13, 2013

Clutching at genetic straws for impersonal treatment

Jeremy Laurance in The Independent says that a study led by Hugh Gurling has opened up the prospect of so-called personalised treatment of bipolar disorder with drugs targeting the metabotropic glutamate receptor 3 (mGluR3). This is based on a finding that the Kozak sequence variant of the glutamate receptor 3 (GRM3) gene, which encodes for mGluR3, was overrepresented in a sample of bipolar disorder cases compared with controls. As the paper concludes, confirmation of this finding is needed before accepting this potential marker. It could just be a chance finding based on screening until a significant result is found.

As the paper also points out, "The GRM3 gene has been investigated in bipolar affective disorder as part of several genome-wide association studies (GWASs) but failed to reach genome-wide significance in any of these investigations." Still research goes on with this gene because it is assumed the failure to find genetic association is "probably the result of the presence of low-frequency disease alleles and the high degree of etiologic genetic heterogeneity".  Actually it's more likely that there's no genetic link.

I haven't forgotten Hugh Gurling's false claim in Nature in 1988 that he'd found strong evidence for the involvement of a single gene on chromosome 5 in the causation of schizophrenia. Jeremy Laurance shouldn't be so easily taken in by claims for so-called personalised (actually there's nothing personal about it in the sense of relating to patients) psychiatry.


Anonymous said...

Jeremy is a twat, and I too remember Gurling's 1988 claims. That's burnt into my memory as the NSF couldn't get enough of it and a certain psychiatrist went around doing talks about it to local branches. I attended such a talk and questioned the validity of the research to actual hissing of the mafia mob around me. I also noted the speakers conference pamphlets including a workshop looking at 'aborting affected feotuses'. I asked her, 'so are we talking eugenics?' and her response was 'well it has to be discussed'. I shuddered when I thought about the then Maudsley's 'genetic counselling' clinic and what advice they may have been offering. The genetic 'break through' has never materialised and I doubt it ever will, there are far more productive things to be spending money on.

Anonymous said...

Is it for or against, I do not know, but could be interesting.

Mental Health Lawyers Association meeting.
Date: Wednesday, 24th April
Time: 4.30-6.00pm
Venue: Kenworthy’s Chambers, Arlington House, Bloom Street, Salford, Manchester M3 6AJ
Tel: 0161 832 4036.

Speaker Dr Davies – CTOs, their increasing use, their impact on restrictions of liberty and cross-over with MCA/DoLs. This will be followed by a question and answer session.


Hugh Gurling said...

Dr Double has overlooked a replication study (Suarez et al American journal of human genetics 78, 315-333, 2006) which showed linkage at the same chromosomal 5q11-13 region implicated in the Sherrington et al linkage study (Nature 336, 164 - 167, 10th November 1988). His claim that the result was false is wrong. Furthermore since then two genes (KIF2A and ZSWIM6) in the chromosome 5q11-13 region have been associated with schizophrenia with statistical significance in case control samples. Allelic association studies in case control samples which detect linkage disequilibrium rather than linkage produce better localisation of susceptibility genes than do family linkage methods. The problem in the genetics of psychosis is the fact that only 1 or 2% of cases share the same genetic susceptibility. Critical psychiatrists need to keep up with the literature to avoid falling into the trap of making scientific assertions which are more to do with their emotional investment in politics than in the complexity of the science.

Hugh Gurling said...

There have now been quite a few genetic breakthroughs in schizophrenia and bipolar genetics. In people with schizophrenia 5% have been found to have large genetic deletions and duplications (known as copy number variants). There have been multiple scientific replications of this finding. In addition there have been many actual DNA mutations reported in specific genes in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The critical psychiatry movement needs to accept genetics and to understand how capitalism distorts or prevents the application of scientific discoveries for the benefit of people with mental illnesses.

Johnny Pell said...

A twat indeed and a dangerous one. Jeremy Lawrence makes a habit of being taken in - the Schitzophrenia Commission and all. Time for the proprietor of The Independent to relocate him to Moscow?