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Schizophrenia, Scientists Discover Over 100 Genes Playing Role: A Major Breakthrough

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By Indrani Bhattacharyya | July 23, 2014 12:21 PM EST

Schizophrenia, one of the most common mental disorders affects 24 million people as of 2011, across the globe. Some of the symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucination, disorganised speech and thinking followed by delusions. Onset of the symptoms often takes place during young adulthood and at 20s.

Reuters
A cross-section of an entire organoid showing development of different brain regions is seen in this photo provided by the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) on August 29, 2013.

This new study, the biggest one in the field till date found out more than 100 genes which play significant role in the development of schizophrenia.

As part of this worldwide, multinational, collaborative effort - 300 scientists from 35 countries, researchers from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada, worked relentlessly to identify over 100 locations in the human genome that are strongly related to the risk of schizophrenia development.

The study was led by Michael O Donovan at Cardiff University School of Medicine and got published in the journal Nature.

This work will definitely provide great direction towards development of new treatment and better therapeutics in future. Little advance had been made in this regard during last 60 years.

"We've been able to detect genetic risk factors on a huge and unprecedented scale and shed new light on the biological cause of the condition," according to Professor O'Donovan.

In this study, 80,000 schizophrenia patients and healthy volunteers worldwide were examined, 108 specific locations in the human genome were recognised to be linked to schizophrenia, 83 of which were completely new.

This research also points out novel biological mechanisms and pathways, as this study indicates the genes expressed in brain tissue but it also recognized genes linked to schizophrenia were specifically active in the immune system.

"Detecting biological risk factors on this scale shows that schizophrenia can be tackled by the same approaches that have already transformed outcomes for people with other diseases. We now believe they can also do so for schizophrenia which has, until now, been so poorly understood," said Professor Sir Mike Owen, director of Cardiff University.

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(Photo: Reuters / /MADELINE LANCASTER-IMBA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A cross-section of an entire organoid showing development of different brain regions is seen in this photo provided by the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) on August 29, 2013.
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