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Mental health gene investigations in Inverness

18th May 2006

A new laboratory in Scotland has opened in a bid to investigate the link between genes and mental illness.

The new unit, which is the brainchild of the Ness Foundation, will be housed at the Dochfour Business Centre in Inverness.

It is hoped that the centre will provide scientists with a better understanding of autism and schizophrenia.

By developing tests on breath and the skin, it is thought that eventually the centre will be able to provide GPs with a kit to determine whether the patient is suffering from a mental illness or a physical problem.

Douglas Mundie, the chairman of the foundation, which was formed ten years ago, said: "The skin test we have developed at The Ness Foundation has shown that it is possible to diagnose further the early symptoms of schizophrenia when used in conjunction with existing clinical evaluation.

"We believe that we will be able to distinguish between other problems such as depression and drug-induced psychosis, which can often exhibit confusingly similar symptoms."

It is hoped the skin and breath tests will be available to doctors within three years.