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£2m funding for mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions

29 June 2022

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New funding will help to advance understanding of genetic mutations in mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions.

The Neuroscience and Mental Health Innovation Institute at Cardiff University has been awarded £2 million of funding from the Medical Research Council to gain better understanding of the genetic causes of multiple mental health conditions.

Research into the genetic basis of mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders offers hope for development of new treatments. Small changes in genetic structure, known as Copy Number Variants, are major contributors to risk for neurodevelopmental conditions including autism and schizophrenia.

Professor Jeremy Hall, Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Innovation Institute at Cardiff University, said: “Studying patients with these Copy Number Variant genetic changes will offer new opportunities into understanding the brain changes associated with risk for these disorders.

“We aim to investigate how some of the most common Copy Number Variants affect brain function. We think that these different genetic mutations have common effects on brain function by altering the activity of certain types of brain cells.”

The research will bring together scientists from across Cardiff University, from the School of Medicine, School of Psychology and School of Biosciences, as well as collaborators with University of Bristol and University College London, uniting with the Neuroscience and Mental Health Innovation Institute to uncover vital new information.

“This work will enable us to advance understanding of how Copy Number Variants impacts on neuronal function and reduce brain connectivity. The insights we will gain will represent an important step towards improving understanding of the biological causes of neurodevelopmental disorders, with the aim of enhancing the early diagnosis and treatment,” said Professor Jeremy Hall.

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