Singapore, July 27 : Identifying a key gene that controls specialized brain cells is expected to boost understanding of neurological disorders and lead to better treatment of conditions ranging from schizophrenia to multiple sclerosis, researchers said Wednesday.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) study has unveiled a new gene that speeds up the growth of the body's protective fatty nerve coverings. Named juxtanodin, the gene speeds up the growth of myelin, the fatty sheath that protects nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
"This one special gene has a clear function," The Straits Times quoted Assistant Professor Liang Fengyi as saying.
He is the lead researcher in the group, which has been working on the project for three years.
"Since it is an important link with the development of the insulating network, we hope that it will allow us to understand a host of diseases that occur when such development goes wrong," he said.
Neurological disorders cause one in nine deaths worldwide, according to the World Federation of Neurology task force.
Liang said that his group planned to identify the human counterpart of the gene, as the results it had were from animals.
"We hope to get clues on how to treat the many diseases caused when the natural process goes wrong," he added.