Genetics, brain imaging could lead to new mental illness treatments

Advances in genetics and brain imaging are leading to a revolution in our understanding of the human brain, say neuroscientists.

That's enabling researchers to discover more about mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, and opening up the possibilities for new treatments.

Advances in biology mean many genes implicated in mental illness have been identified.

And new scanning techniques are creating a complete map of the brain's intricate network of connections.

Researchers have found that people with schizophrenia tend to have fewer "hubs", so their brain networks are less well connected than healthy individuals.

Professor Ed Bullmore, Cambridge University's Head Of Psychiatry, says where the excitement is building is linking the network diagrams researchers can get out of imaging to what they're learning about the genetics of schizophrenia.

"If we can  bring those two things together then we may be able to understand more clearly what are the genetic mechanisms that drive network development to go off on a somewhat different path that leads to schizophrenia," he said.

"And if we can understand mechanisms then we can design new treatments."

Several mental conditions such as autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia have been found to share some of the same genetic risk factors.


Topics



Student pilot charged after allegedly trying to steal passenger plane in the US

A 22-year-old student pilot suspected of boarding a vacant passenger plane at a central Florida airport yesterday has been charged with criminal attempt to steal an airplane, officials said.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating and trying to determine a motive in the case, according to Orlando-Melbourne International Airport spokeswoman Lori Booker.

She told news outlets the student pilot, identified as Florida Institute of Technology student Nishal Sankat, also faces a visa violation and criminal trespassing charges.

Early yesterday, a man drove to the curb outside the airport, left his car running, hopped a fence and boarded an Airbus 321 American Airlines aircraft sitting in a maintenance facility, Booker said.

An avionics technician was in the plane's galley when he saw a shadow, Booker said.

"He turned around and said, 'Who are you? Show me your badge," Booker told news outlets. She said the technician was among airport workers she dubbed heroes.

He grabbed the man and, with help from another technician, they got him off the plane. Booker said that while one technician held the man down, the other called Melbourne airport police.

The man broke free and ran along the airfield before police took him into custody about two minutes later.

After the man was arrested, officials conducted a sweep of the airfield before re-opening the airport.

All employees and passengers were removed from the terminal during the incident, which caused two flight delays and interrupted airport operations for about five hours.

Police searched the student pilot's car with a robotic arm to make sure no explosives were inside, Booker said. The car was then towed from the airport.

The airport returned to normal operations after five hours.

Booker said the student pilot is from Trinidad and entered the United States through Canada. The spokeswoman said he has a Florida driver's licence.

The man had jumped the fence and made it to the Airbus' flight deck. Source: US ABC

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Community demands answers over what caused kids to become seriously ill at a Carterton school

The Wairarapa community are demanding answers to what caused children at Carterton South End's school to become sick, after a strange smell wafted over the school yesterday afternoon.

Police ruled out initial reports that a plane flying overhead may have dropped a toxic substance on the school.

Parents at the school are angered and want answers as to what caused the illnesses.

Cody Pratt's daughter was one of the students who vomited after smelling a sulphur like substance.

"It was scary having my daughter in the school premises and being told I couldn't go in to get her was pretty daunting," said Mr Pratt.

"I definitely want to know what has gone on.

"Children came in after lunch and reported feeling unwell after the substance, or smelling a smell," he said.

Ten students were taken to hospital but returned to their homes last night.

The school was cleared to be re-opened for classes on Monday.

Police say they have conducted a thorough examination of the school and still haven't found a point of cause.

Police inquiries will now focus on the surrounding neighbourhood.

Police now believe they can rule out initial reports that a plane flying overhead may have dropped a toxic substance on the school. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Queensland shark bite victims remain in hospital

A woman and a little girl bitten by a shark at the same location but in separate attacks in Queensland remain in hospital.

Hannah Papps, who lives in Melbourne with her Kiwi parents, was holidaying with her father and sister when she received a life-threatening wound to her right leg on Thursday while swimming in shallow water in Cid Harbour.

Her attack came after Tasmanian mother of two, Justine Barwick, 46, was bitten on her left thigh while snorkelling in the same area less than 24 hours earlier.

Both have now been transferred to hospitals in Brisbane where the 12-year-old is in a critical but stable condition and Ms Barwick was last known to be stable.

"We would like to thank everyone who has helped and cared for Hannah, including the police, emergency services and the hospital teams," her family said in a statement on Friday.

“We ask that everyone, including the media, please respect our family's privacy during this very difficult time so we can focus our energies on Hannah's recovery.”

Three baited hooks set by the Fisheries Department in the harbour on Friday will remain in place for at least a week as authorities try to catch a shark or sharks responsible.

It is the first-time baited hooks have been used in the popular Whitsundays holiday destination, where the tourism industry is still recovering following Cyclone Debbie in 2017.

The girl is Hannah Papps, who lives in Melbourne with her New Zealand parents. Source: 1 NEWS


Topics


Obama in Pennsylvania, hoping to boost Democrats

Former US President Barack Obama turned his political attention to Pennsylvania today, a state Donald Trump won in 2016.

Obama campaigned in Philadelphia with two leading Democrats running for re-election, Governor Tom Wolf and US Senator Bob Casey.

At a campaign rally at the Dell Music Centre in Philadelphia, Obama implored Pennsylvanians to vote in November because the election was more consequential than any he could remember.

During the speech, Obama made no mention of his successor in the White House by name, but urged voters of all parties - not just Democrats - to vote to restore honesty, decency and lawfulness to government.

In the November 6 contests, Democrats are trying to oust Republicans in four U.S. House districts and more than a dozen state legislative seats in the Philadelphia area alone.

Obama twice carried Pennsylvania in his presidential races, and Democrats hope the state can help them retake control of Congress from the GOP.

Democrats in other states where Obama has campaigned recently say his stops have drawn big crowds, giving the party a chance to organise, update voter contact lists, motivate new donors and boost volunteerism.

Obama planned a fundraiser after the Philadelphia rally.

Donald Trump won the state in the 2016 election. Source: Associated Press


Topics