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Studying the genetic architecture of OCD and Tourette's syndrome

In a moving video of a poetry performance, spoken-word artist Neil Hilborn shares experiences from his inner life: falling in love, having his heart broken, and living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition that affects about 2.2 million American adults.

Scientists have dug deeply to study OCD and Tourette's syndrome (TS) at the genetic level. In a recent study, published in PLOS Genetics, an international research consortium led by affiliates of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Chicago found that both OCD and TS are highly heritable, that each is made up of different genes and that the two show major differences in their underlying genetic makeups. Researchers used an approach called genome-wide trait analysis to compare genetic variation across the entire genome, rather than one site at a time.

From a release:

"Both TS and OCD appear to have a genetic architecture of many different genes – perhaps hundreds in each person – acting in concert to cause disease," says Jeremiah Scharf, MD, PhD, of the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit in the MGH Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, senior corresponding author of the report. "By directly comparing and contrasting both disorders, we found that OCD heritability appears to be concentrated in particular chromosomes -- particularly chromosome 15 -- while TS heritability is spread across many different chromosomes."

In the study, the authors wrote that results "might help in determining where, and what kind of variants are individual risk factors for TS and OCD and where they might be located in the human genome."

Previously: Google search data offers insights into how seasonal changes affect mental healthAsk Stanford Med: Stanford psychiatrist taking questions on psychological effects of Internet use and Being big-hearted may yield big psychological benefits

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