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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Genes lab studies mental health
Human DNA chain
The lab will study genes to help mental health research
A new laboratory has opened in Inverness to assist research into the roles played by genes in mental health.

The Ness Foundation has been trying to improve understanding of schizophrenia and autism.

Its new lab aims to boost analysis of skin and breath tests to diagnose symptoms of mental health earlier.

Eventually it could lead to a kit for GPs to test quickly whether a patient is exhibiting mental problems or is suffering from another illness.

It is the first genetics lab to open in Inverness and is housed within the foundation's offices in Dochfour Business Centre.

Douglas Mundie, foundation chairman, said: "Diagnosing mental health problems like schizophrenia and autism are still based on the skill and experience of trained psychiatrists.

"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."

The foundation is an associate partner of UHI Millennium Institute, a further education body trying to set up the Highlands' first university.

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