Eighty new genes linked to schizophrenia


Scientists have uncovered 80 previously unknown genes which may put people at risk of developing schizophrenia, research in Nature suggests.

The team says the world’s largest genetic study of the disease shows it can have biological causes - putting it on a par with other medical conditions.

Led by Cardiff University, the international group believes this could be a launch pad for new therapies.

Charities say that holistic approaches to the illness must continue.

Scientists have debated the relative role genes play in schizophrenia - a condition which affects more than 24 million people worldwide - for many years.
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This study puts psychiatry into the same category as other parts of medicine”

Prof David Curtis University College London

Now a global consortium across 35 countries has examined the genetic make-up of more than 37,000 people with the condition, comparing them with some 110,000 people without the disease.
‘New biology’

**Scientists found more than 100 genes that make people more susceptible to schizophrenia- 83 of which have never been pinpointed before.

Many of these genes are involved in the relay of chemical messages around the brain.

And others are known to be involved in the immune system - affecting the body’s natural armoury against disease.
Prof Michael O’Donovan of Cardiff University who led the research said: "For many years it has been difficult to develop new lines of treatment for schizophrenia, hampered by a poor understanding of the biology of disease.

“Finding a whole new bunch of genetic associations opens a window for well-informed experiments to unlock the biology of this condition and we hope ultimately new treatments.”

Prof David Curtis of University College London and one of the authors of the research told the BBC: "This study puts psychiatry into the same category as other parts of medicine.

**"In the past we have struggled with the view that psychiatric conditions are not ‘real’ illnesses but early genetic studies had limited successes.

“Now we show with confidence that there are biological processes going awry.”**

Dr Gerome Breen of King’s College London who was not involved in the current research but will be working on future studies told the BBC: "I think this is revolutionary.

"We now have a massive amount of new biology to investigate - a whole new set of ideas which could provide many potential avenues for treatment.

"This is crucial. Drug therapy for schizophrenia has not changed significantly since the 1970s."


Bolded emphasis mine.

I for one see this as such a beacon of hope. My cousin died in her 50s from the side effects of medications that didn’t really do all that much good, and caused such bad tremors that she was no longer able to do the artwork for which she had a talent when she was young. And for a short while when I toyed with the idea of a career in the mental health field, I saw many more examples of people having to be human guinea pigs for pharmaceuticals that had limited effectiveness and made their lives hell with side effects. :frowning:

Now to pray that researchers can get funding to explore these new discoveries, and that what they find out can truly improve lives of those suffering from this devastating condition.


Wow! That is a lot of different genes!! More than 80 previously unknown? Sounds pretty substantial, to say the least.

Interesting. I have only a cursory familiarity with Schizophreina’s etiollogy. The immune system link sounds like a good direction to snoop around in.

Thanks for posting.


You’re welcome. It’s something that hurts to watch, how there seems to be no really effective help for so many folks with this illness, and what there is comes for them at so high a price such as what my cousin paid. Her mother is a casualty as well, she has dementia now, from all the years of stress dealing with the daughter’s condition, I think.

Not only that, but I had a front row seat during my own mother’s last few years. My mom didn’t have schizophrenia, she had severe diabetes. Diabetics are more prone to infection, and several times when she had an infection she would have delirium and hallucinate and I couldn’t help but make a connection in my mind between that and someone who has a psychotic condition.

I’m no doctor but I could see the similarities - it’s like, those with psychotic disorders, how are they that different from my mom when she was delirious? I thought, they need to be treating this as a medical condition - but doing a better job at it. Now maybe that can begin. I have even prayed for such a thing - perhaps my prayers, and prayers of all whose lives have been touched by this suffering, are beginning to be answered.


Let’s hold off.
The press is terrible at reporting science and we’ll have to see if the original study holds up. More and more studies, even from legitimate journals have had to be retracted, see retractionwatch.com/.

I’m always suspicious of “X gene causes Y” (or 80 genes cause Y). We are just learning that genes can just sit dormant and never express themselves, or be influenced by environment in what looks like a Lamarckian fashion.


Unless your a Carthesian dualist, I can’t imagine seeing any psychological illness as anything other than a medical (i.e. physical) illness.


I had something similar. I was hospitalized for a septic infection in my knee, plus a blood-glucose level of 55.8 (that’s 1004.4 for Americans), hypokalemia (dangerously low potassium), hypernatremia (dangerously high sodium), and dehydration. I was having delusions for days. I don’t know if it was the infection or the high/low blood chemicals – or a combination of both – but I was having paranoid delusions: the nurses were putting me in broom closets, they were threatening me with inflicting bodily harm, the desk lamp was making faces at me (seriously)…


It’s just a starting point - but it’s better than what we’ve had to go on up till now. You may be correct in some of what you say, but why not at the same time be hopeful? :shrug:

Well, one would have to read a history of psychiatry to trace the attempts to get to the root of many mental conditions, and it would be rife with attempts to treat them through, I don’t know, Freudian analysis on the one hand, lobotomies on the other - and as I’ve already said, little effectiveness and loads of suffering. So I hope they’re onto something with this. Of course, I hope it doesn’t lead to abortion if they get to the point where a baby can be tested in the womb. I hope there will be effective, safe treatments sooner rather than later.


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