Cardiff Connect, News

Neuropsychiatric Genetics: past, present and future

The MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University is a unique facility. For a decade, it has brought together world-leading researchers to investigate the major contributing factors behind mental health issues.

To mark ten years of pioneering contributions to public health at the Centre, we hosted a special research showcase: Rethinking Mental Illness. Here are six things we learned.

After four decades, there is potential for advances in treatment

Prior to recent advances, a lack of targeted research had led to prescribed treatments for a range of disorders remaining almost unchanged over nearly half a century.

It is only in the last few years that genetic research like that taking place at the University has facilitated a better understanding of the causes of neuropsychiatric illness and indicated new advances for the development of novel treatments, according to Professor Sir Michael Owen.

Sir Mike Owen speaking at the event

80% of mental health problems emerge before the age of 25

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Professor Anita Thapar CBE (MBBCh 1985, PhD 1995) shared that when she started to specialise in the early 1990s, mental health issues in young people were often disregarded.

Thanks to improvements in research, it is now acknowledged that four in five mental health conditions manifest before the age of 25. The result? Earlier diagnosis, and better outcomes.

Professor Anita Thapar CBE (MBBCh 1985, PhD 1995)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a genetic condition

Professor Thapar went on to explain that ADHD is an often-misunderstood condition.

First recognised in 1902, ADHD was only categorised as a neurodevelopmental disorder in 2010. Since then, Cardiff’s chromosomal analysis has shown up to 80% heritability. This provides a definitive rebuke to persistent myths that the condition is “made up” or stems from “bad parenting”.

Psychosis can reduce life expectancy by 20 years

Whilst many people who experience psychosis can recover, most cases will recur over a lifetime. Lifestyle factors associated with the condition and existing treatments (e.g. unhealthy diet, heavy smoking) can have a dramatic effect on life expectancy.

On average, a person with psychosis will die 15-20 years earlier than someone without the condition, said Professor Owen. This kind of statistic provides a huge impetus for the research taking place at the University.

Bigger sample sizes, better results

Professor James Walters (MSc 2005, PhD 2012) – who will take over from Professor Owen as director of the Centre – believes that future developments may result from simply scaling up our research.

He explained that by doubling a sample size in one study to 70,000 (less than a full capacity Principality Stadium), researchers at the University were able to identify new genetic risk factors for psychiatric disorders.

Professor James Walters (MSc 2005, PhD 2012)

The future is in ‘precision’ medicine

Professor Walters believes that by further increasing sample sizes, sharing data and progressions in biological understandings of genetic results, we can look to tailor medicine to people’s unique genetic make-up in the next ten years. This could lead to an end to the unpredictable outcomes and side-effects associated with ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatments.

Cyswllt Caerdydd, News

Geneteg Niwroseiciatrig: y gorffennol, presennol a’r dyfodol

Mae Canolfan y Cyngor Ymchwil Feddygol ar gyfer Geneteg a Genomeg Niwroseiciatrig ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd yn gyfleuster unigryw. Am ddegawd, mae wedi dod ag ymchwilwyr o’r radd flaenaf at ei gilydd i ymchwilio’r prif ffactorau cyfrannol tu ôl i faterion iechyd meddwl.

Er mwyn dynodi deng mlynedd o gyfraniadau arloesol i iechyd y cyhoedd yn y Ganolfan, fe wnaethom gynnal arddangosfa ymchwil arbennig: Ailystyried Salwch Meddwl. Dyma chwe pheth a ddysgon ni.

Ar ôl chwe degawd, mae yna botensial ar gyfer datblygiadau o ran triniaeth

Cyn y datblygiadau diweddar, roedd diffyg ymchwil wedi’i dargedu wedi arwain at driniaethau ar bresgripsiwn ar gyfer amryw o anhwylderau yn aros fwy neu lai yn ddinewid am dros hanner canrif.

Dim ond dros yr ychydig flynyddoedd diwethaf y mae ymchwil geneteg debyg i honno a gynhelir yn y Brifysgol wedi meithrin gwell dealltwriaeth o ffactorau sy’n achosi afiechyd niwroseiciatrig, a nodi cynnydd newydd ar gyfer datblygu triniaethau newydd, yn ôl yr Athro Michael Owen.

Syr Mike Owen

Mae 80% o broblemau iechyd meddwl yn dod i’r amlwg cyn 25 oed

Datgelodd y seiciatrydd plant a’r glasoed, yr Athro Anita Thapar CBE (MBBCh 1985, PhD 1995) fod materion iechyd meddwl ymhlith pobl ifanc yn cael eu diystyru yn aml pan ddechreuodd hi arbenigo yn y 1990au cynnar.

O ganlyniad i welliannau mewn ymchwil, mae cydnabyddiaeth erbyn hyn fod pedwar o bob pum cyflwr iechyd meddwl yn dod i’r amlwg cyn cyrraedd 25 oed. Y canlyniad? Diagnosis cynt, a chanlyniadau gwell.

Yr Athro Anita Thapar CBE (MBBCh 1985, PhD 1995)

Mae anhwylder diffyg canolbwyntio a gorfywiogrwydd (ADHD) yn gyflwr genynnol

Aeth yr Athro Thapar ymlaen i esbonio bod ADHD yn aml yn gyflwr sy’n cael ei gamddeall.

Cafodd ADHD ei gydnabod am y tro cyntaf ganrifoedd yn ôl, ac ond ei gategoreiddio’n fwy diweddar fel anhwylder niwroddatblygiadol. Mae dadansoddiad genetig a gynhaliwyd gan y Ganolfan wedi amlygu cyfraniad ffactorau risg genetig, a’r nodwedd o fod yn gorgyffwrdd ag awtistiaeth. Mae hynny’n herio camdybiaethau cyson am y cyflwr.

Gall seicosis leihau disgwyliad oes gan 20 mlynedd

Tra gall y rhan fwyaf o bobl sy’n profi seicosis wella, nydd y rhan fwyaf o achosion yn codi eto dros gwrs bywyd. Gall ffactorau bywyd sy’n gysylltiedig â’r cyflwr a thriniaethau sy’n bodoli eisoes (e.e. diet gwael, ysmygu’n drwm) gael effaith ddramatig ar ddisgwyliad oes.

Fel arfer, bydd person â seicosis yn marw 15-20 o flynyddoedd yn gynharach na rhywun heb y cyflwr, yn ôl yr Athro Owen. Mae ystadegyn o’r math yma yn darparu ysgogiad enfawr ar gyfer yr ymchwil a gynhelir yn y Brifysgol.

Samplau mwy o faint, gwell canlyniadau

Mae’r Athro James Walters (MSc 2005, PhD 2012) – a fydd yn cymryd yr awenau oddi wrth yr Athro Owen fel Cyfarwyddwr y Ganolfan – yn credu y gall datblygiadau’r dyfodol ddeillio, yn syml, o ehangu ein hymchwil.

Drwy ddyblu maint sampl mewn un astudiaeth i 70,000 (llai na Stadiwm Principality llawn), fe eglurodd, roedd ymchwilwyr yn y Brifysgol yn gallu nodi ffactorau risg genynnol newydd ar gyfer anhwylderau seicolegol.

Yr Athro James Walters (MSc 2005, PhD 2012)

Meddygaeth ‘fanwl’ yw’r dyfodol

Cred yr Athro Walters mai drwy gynyddu meintiau sampl, rhannu data a chamau dilyniannau ymhellach mewn dealltwriaethau biolegol ynghylch canlyniadau genetig, gallwn fynd ati i deilwra meddygaeth i gyfansoddiad genynnol unigryw pobl yn y ddeng mlynedd nesaf. Gall hyn arwain at ddiwedd ar y canlyniadau anrhagweladwy a’r sgîl-effeithiau sy’n gysylltiedig â thriniaethau ‘un math yn addas i bawb’.