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NIMH to Fund Neurological Disorder-related Microdeletion Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Mental Health will award around $3 million to fund as many as six projects that pursue research into a genetic microdeletion that has been associated with a range of neuropsychiatric disorders.

The new funding program seeks to support projects that will expand the research conducted by the International 22q11 Deletion Syndrome Research Consortium, a group of around 120 investigators spread across 20 countries.

22q11 Deletion Syndrome is the most common genetic microdeletion syndrome, and occurs in around one out of every 4,000 births, although only around 3,000 to 4,000 subjects with the syndrome are enrolled in genetics studies worldwide. Most of those studies are relatively small (under 100 individuals), however, and scientific advances in this disease area will require that all of the samples that are currently available are studied in a consortium that integrates clinical science and genomics expertise, according to NIMH.

Children with this deletion have a high prevalence of ADHD, anxiety, depression, autistic, and psychotic features, and up to 30 percent of adolescents and adults with 22q11 DS develop schizophrenia or psychosis.

NIMH believes that 22q11 DS "offers a unique window into studying the molecular architecture of these disorders and presents an opportunity to focus on the discovery of genomic risk and resilience factors."

These grants will fund collaborative applications for research in a range of areas including studies of the 22Q deletion interval and other genomic elements involved in expression of the phenotypes that are associated with the syndrome, an examination of phenotypes seen in 22q11 DS, and development of consensus phenotypic measures for longitudinal studies. The program also will fund development of a resource for the consortium and the scientific community that includes common databases with information covering all the related research domains and participating sites.