Schizophrenics May Find New Hope in Genetic Study

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A new study recently published in Nature Genetics has paved the way to beginning to understand how gene mutations predispose one to schizophrenia.  The international study, led by Guy A. Rouleau, MD*, used modern DNA sequencing technology to examine 20,000 genes from patients who have schizophrenia but whose parents do not. This circumstance, known as “de nova mutations,” is experienced more often in schizophrenics than in “normal” individuals.

Schizophrenia affects men and women equally and occurs in similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world, according to the National Institute for Mental Health. With the results of this study, researchers can begin to understand how gene mutations predispose one to schizophrenia.

“Most of the genes identified in this study have not been previously linked to schizophrenia, thereby providing new potential therapeutic targets,” said Simon Girard, one of Rouleau’s colleagues who performed the key experiments in the study.

Schizophrenia may be the most misunderstood mental illness in the world. Those who suffer from the condition are often stigmatized and labeled violent despite a lack of evidence to support the claim. Rouleau’s findings will lead to expanded research. “Our results not only open the door to a better understanding of schizophrenia,” said Rouleau, “they also give us valuable information about the molecular mechanisms involved in human brain development and function.”

*Guy A. Rouleau, MD, is a researcher at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre and director of CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center.


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While there is no cure for schizophrenia, it is a treatable and manageable disease.

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