Extraction of DNA samples from the brains of deceased patients highlights the mysteries of mental illness

An American pathologist from Indiana University along with an international team of researchers extracted DNA samples from the brains of deceased patients belonging to the period 1896-1938 in order to observe if they contain genes related to schizophrenia or other mental illness.

It is believed that schizophrenia is caused by certain genetic variations, but researchers were unable to identify the precise mutation or series of mutations that are directly related to the disease.

Scientists took advantage of the fact that brain samples dating from the late 19th and early 20th century are kept perfectly preserved museum in a special substance (a form flammable gelatin and cellulose). The brains were not affected in any way by modern medicaments and have with clinical notes.

However, extracting DNA and RNA samples was not easy, because the brains must be treated with liquid nitrogen at -180 degrees Celsius temperature.

Although researchers have not published their findings, if DNA extraction method is validated, their work will be the beginning of the establishment of a database with important information about mental illness.

The brains were kept by the Medical History Museum Indianapolis