Molecular hybridisation has been used to screen several areas of post mortem brain from 20 patients with schizophrenia, 23 individuals who were suspected of having committed suicide and 21 control cases, for viral nucleic acids. Cloned probes were able to detect picogram levels of viral DNA and to quantify herpes simplex type 1 DNA from encephalitic brain, but no sequences hybridising to cytomegalovirus, varicella zoster virus, herpes simplex type I or JC or BK papovaviruses were detected in any of the experimental samples. These findings are discussed with reference to the viral hypothesis of the aetiology of psychiatric disease.
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