Schizophrenia is a psychosis that typically has an onset in early adulthood. It is believed to have a strong genetic component, and as a complex disorder it is likely that variants in many genes contribute to increased risk. Linkage and association studies have implicated mutations in several genes.
Since the 1950s it has been appreciated that a class of compounds called neuroleptics can be effective at treating symptoms of schizophrenia. By the 1970s and 1980s it became clear that a major mode of action of the neuroleptics is to block postsynaptic dopamine receptors. A concern has been the sometimes severe side effects of neuroleptics, including their ability to induce Parkinson's disease-like motor symptoms. There has been interest in understanding the mode of action of atypical neuroleptics such as quetiapine. In collaboration with Dr. Akira Sawa (Dept. of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) we recently reported on possible mechanisms of action of quetiapine.