A huge international study has discovered the first common genetic mutations involved in schizophrenia. The results show that schizophrenia shares some genetic links with other psychiatric problems, including bipolar disorder.
Three research consortia analysed the DNA of 15,000 people with schizophrenia and 50,000 health control subjects, to find differences between those with and without the disease. Their findings are published in Nature, the journal
Schizophrenia, which affects about 1 per cent of adults, tends to run in families. This tripartite study has uncovered a vast array of genetic variation that is estimated to account for about a third of the disease's total heritability.
"Each individual gene has a small effect, raising the [risk] of schizophrenia from 1 per cent to 1.2 per cent at most," said David Collier, of the Institute of Psychiatry, London.
While the findings do not provide any astonishing revelations, the international collaboration has been a "spectacular success", according to Dr Collier. It will lead soon to a better understanding of the biology of schizophrenia, though new diagnostic tests and treatments lie further in the future.
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