Two papers in the journal Nature this month from US researchers have pinpointed new genetic variations linked to the psychiatric disorder schizophrenia, which affects roughly one in every 100 adults. In the first study, scientists compared gene sequences from 2,500 people with schizophrenia, and compared them with DNA from the same number of unaffected, similar people. Meanwhile, the second study focused on so-called ‘trios’ - a person with the condition and their unaffected parents - looking for new faults in the affected person that aren’t there in their parents.
Both studies confirm what’s been previously suspected - that schizophrenia is due to a complex combination of variations in many genes, and isn’t just due to one specific gene fault. This suggests that any two people with the condition may have different genetic ‘signatures’.
However, the findings reveal that most alterations tend to cluster within a few specific biological pathways, such as genes involved in nerve function and brain development, bringing a deeper understanding of the biological processes involved in the illness and opening up avenues for potential future treatments.