Schizophrenia in the Genes

Genetic links found in schizophrenic and bipolar disorders

(RxWiki News) Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, once known as manic-depression, are common but debilitating mental illnesses. Patients suffer from delusions, hallucinations and severe mood problems.

Common genetic variations contribute to a person's risk of these disorders, including six new regions in the human genome that have never been seen before.

"Inherited DNA increase risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder."

In the largest study of its kind, an international research project including more than 250 researchers has provided new evidence of DNA regions that are associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The massive study looked at more than 50,000 adults in more than 20 countries, focusing on molecular levels of the human genome. Researchers found that 11 DNA regions had strong associations with schizophrenia, including five regions not previously observed. Many of the DNA variants also contributed to bipolar disorder.

Also known as a whole genome association study, a genome-wide association study examines all or most of the genes of different individuals to see how much the genes vary from individual to individual.

The findings represent major advances in the understanding of these chronic mental illnesses, which affect about one percent of the world's population. “This tells us that these disorders, which many of us have considered to be separate things, actually share fundamental similarity,” said Patrick F. Sullivan, MD and principal investigator in the study. “The consortium is the largest research consortium ever in psychiatry and is certainly the largest biological experiment we’ve ever done in the field.”

Findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics, in September 2011.

Review Date: 
September 22, 2011