Changes in gene expression within the central nervous system (CNS) have profound effects on all other aspects of the organism. Changes in gene expression are causally associated not only with the development of the CNS but also with the complex phenomena of brain function, such as memory formation, learning, cognition, and affective state. Changes in gene expression likely underlie the pathogenesis of many sporadic or inherited CNS-related disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, depression, and schizophrenia. Thus, insight into and characterization of gene expression profiles are necessary steps for understanding how the brain functions at the molecular level and how malfunction will result in disease. Molecular biological and genomic technologies such as gene mapping and cloning, DNA libraries, gene transfection and expression, and gene knockout and gene targeting have provided numerous benefits to neuropsychopharmacology. Genomic methods applied to pedigree and population samples of patients with psychiatric disorders may soon make it possible to identify genes contributing to the etiology and pathogenesis of these diseases and to provide a potential basis for new therapies.
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