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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB:  Targeted Treatment of Individuals With Psychosis Carrying a Copy Number Variant Containing a Genomic Triplication of the Glycine Decarboxylase Gene

The increased mutational burden for rare structural genomic variants in schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders has so far not yielded therapies targeting the biological effects of specific mutations. A team of researchers, including Dr. Charity Morgan, associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, collaborated and identified two carriers (mother and son) of a triplication of the gene encoding glycine decarboxylase, GLDC, presumably resulting in reduced availability of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor coagonists glycine and D-serine and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor hypofunction. Both carriers had a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.

The research team carried out two double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor augmentation of psychotropic drug treatment in these two individuals. Glycine was used in the first clinical trial, and D-cycloserine was used in the second one.

Glycine or D-cycloserine augmentation of psychotropic drug treatment each improved psychotic and mood symptoms in placebo-controlled trials.

These results provide two independent proof-of-principle demonstrations of symptom relief by targeting a specific genotype and explicitly link an individual mutation to the pathophysiology of psychosis and treatment response.

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