Study offers new clues into schizophrenia's genetic code

The largest genomic study of schizophrenia patients suggests there may be over 100 chromosomal sites implicated in the disorder, but about 80 of them haven't been reported until now.

The study, which comes from researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, reveals that some gene variants responsible for the development of schizophrenia are related to functions like dopamine release in the brain, while others might be associated with things like immune system or heavy smoking.

"Some are very familiar genes expressed in nerve cells, and some are results where you scratch your head and you know you have more work to do" study leader Steven Hyman told USA Today in regards to understanding how certain genes play a role in schizophrenia.

Sequence of events

Researchers noted that the particular chromosomal sites identified in the study may not pose risk for schizophrenia independently, but it could have more to do with how their presence can cause or hasten the disease process in a nearby genetic "region."

So the sequence of events, or how these genetic factors influence one after the other in a linear fashion, is important to uncover with further research.

"These results underscore that genetic programming affects the brain in tiny, incremental ways that can increase the risk for developing schizophrenia," said Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., chief of NIMH's Genomics Research Branch. "They also validate the strategy of examining both common and rare variation to understand this complex disorder."

The study is published in the journal Nature.

Source: USA Today
Image courtesty of samarttiw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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