Health

Schizophrenia, Schizophrenia treatment, Schizophrenia risk

Genetics May Be Key to Deciphering Schizophrenia

August 01, 2008 09:53 AM
by Cara McDonough
Researchers have identified three new gene variations that increase the risk of the mental illness. The finding could lead to new treatment for the condition.

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Schizophrenia affects roughly 1 in 100 people at some point in their lives. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with the brain disorder “sometimes hear voices others don’t hear, believe that others are broadcasting their thoughts to the world, or become convinced that others are plotting to harm them.”

The current drugs on the market help, but do not cure the illness and can cause unpleasant side effects, including dangerous weight gain, Reuters reports.

New research may lead to much better methods for diagnosing and treating the illness.

“This work opens up an entirely new way to think about schizophrenia and eventually will suggest avenues for researching therapies for the sake of patients and families suffering from this terrible disorder,” said Pamela Sklar of the Broad Institute, who led one of the studies.

In the studies, international researchers analyzed the genes of 6,000–10,000 people from around the world, half of whom had schizophrenia. The three gene mutations they discovered can increase the risk of developing the brain disorder by up to 15 times.

Studying the link between illnesses and genes is becoming more common as scientists delve further into genetic research.

But DNA-based science is also resulting in a controversial personalized genetics industry, allowing individuals to pay to find out everything about their own genetic makeup, from their risk of balding to their risk of having life-threatening illnesses.

Headline Link: Study shows gene variants linked to schizophrenia

Related Topics: Personalized genetics; schizophrenia and autism

Reference: Schizophrenia; mental health

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