Page 147 - UCT Research Report 2011

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brain behaviour
Analysis showed that there was a difference between the
two groups of mice, and that the early-life stress could be
picked up in messenger RNA. To test this using a human
model, blood samples from non-tik users, tik users, and
tik users who are also psychotic, have been collected to
investigate whether there are changes in DNA, RNA, and
proteins in their immune cells.
“We’re going to look at repeating what we did in the study
of mice in this controlled situation and see if there’s a
difference between these groups in terms of what the
immune cells are doing,” says Professor Illing. “The
possibility of using non-invasive means for diagnosing
psychological states is truly ground-breaking.”
As the complexity of the human brain unfolds through
the work of the Brain and Behaviour Initiative at UCT,
and as new methodologies allow researchers to find
clear links between the brain and behaviour, solutions
to a vast range of South Africa’s social problems could
emerge, and energies can then be used on measures of
prevention and intervention.
“Given the relationships between research and
development, and between research and good clinical
care, it is important that solid research is conducted here
at UCT that will inform our approaches to solving the
complex social issues we face in South Africa,” Professor
Stein says.
The ability to see into the human brain is made possible by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). UCT is growing its
expertise in this area and is home to the DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Brain Imaging.