The Irish DNA Atlas which has just been published in the journal Scientific Reports provides the first fine-scale genetic map of the island of Ireland.
The DNA Atlas, which was produced by researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons and the Genealogical Society of Ireland charts the genetic impact of major historical events such as the Norse Viking invasion and the Ulster Plantations as well as revealing genetic similarity in 10 distinct clusters.
The Atlas was developed by population geneticists and genealogists who came together to collect DNA samples from 196 Irish individuals with four generations of ancestry linked to specific areas across Ireland.
The analyses of the DNA, and comparison with thousands of further samples from Britain and Europe, are revealing seven clusters of Gaelic-Irish ancestry, and three of shared British-Irish ancestry.
Scientists expect that this genetic information will improve the diagnoses of diseases where genes play a strong role, particularly for people and populations with Irish roots.
The researchers involved in the study believe the work will help deliver on the vision of the new FutureNeuro Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre, which is seeking to improve the diagnosis of rare neurological disorders and to personalise treatments of those.
“Having a genetic map of the Irish population will be invaluable in future studies of the genetic component of some common diseases in the Irish population, especially those diseases which show a difference in prevalence rates across the island of Ireland,” said Dr Sean Ennis, UCD ACoRD and Genomics Medicine Ireland.
Some of the information the Atlas has so far revealed include the findings that there are relatively high levels of people of Northwest French and West Norwegian origin in Ireland; that there is evidence of continual, low level migration between the north of Ireland and the south and west of Scotland; and that there are three genetic clusters with shared Irish-British ancestry which are mostly found in the north of Ireland and probably stem from the Ulster plantations.
Faults in in blood vessels in the brain may play a major role in the development of schizophrenia, a condition which affects about 1 per cent of Irish people.
That’s according to new research from scientists at at TCD and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) published in Molecular Psychiatry.
The network of blood vessels in the brain regulates the transport of energy and materials in and out of the brain, moving across the blood-brain barrier (BBB).
Abnormalities in the BBB may be a critical factor in the development of schizophrenia and other brain disorders, the Ireland-based researchers report.
“Our recent findings have, for the first time, suggested that schizophrenia is a brain disorder associated with abnormalities of brain blood vessels,” said Dr Matthew Campbell, Assistant Professor of Neurovascular Genetics at TCD.
“The concept of tailoring drugs to regulate and treat abnormal brain vessels is a novel treatment strategy and offers great potential to complement existing treatments of this debilitating disease,” said Dr Campbell.
“While it is very well accepted that improving cardiovascular health can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks, we now believe that drugs aimed at improving cardiovascular health may be an additional strategy to treating brain diseases in the future,” Dr Campbell added.
This interview was first broadcast on the 22nd September 2016 on East Coast FM’s The Morning Show with Declan Meehan
This article was published in The Sunday Times (Ireland) on 11-09-2016
Listen to discussion on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan (21.04.16)
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