It has long been known that psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, have been associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In a new study published online in The FASEB Journal, a UMass Medical School research team, led by Rita Bortell, PhD, research professor of molecular medicine and Agata Jurczyk, PhD, instructor in molecular medicine, found that a shared gene (or genes) may underlie the co-occurrence of both diseases.

Mutations in Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) have been strongly associated with major psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, but not diabetes. This study presented the first evidence to indicate that the DISC1 gene also plays a novel, unexpected role in pancreatic beta cell survival and function. It is also the first to provide a molecular link for a prevalence of type 2 diabetes in individuals with psychiatric disorders.

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