DNA glitches may cause schizophrenia

Rare DNA deletions and duplications are more common in people with schizophrenia, and these genetic glitches may affect brain development

Rare DNA deletions and duplications are more common in people with schizophrenia, and these genetic glitches may affect brain development and neurological function, say researchers at the University of Washington and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. In their study of 418 people, mutated genes were present in 15 percent of those with schizophrenia, versus only five percent in the healthy controls. The higher rate of gene glitches was even more pronounced in young people diagnosed with the condition. The actual genes affected can vary widely among individuals, however.

Schizophrenia – a brain disorder marked by delusions, hallucinations, disturbed thinking and withdrawal from social activity—affects one in 100 Canadians, according to the Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SSC). Antipsychotic medicines, cognitive therapy, support and social skills training can all help manage the symptoms of the disorder. Donating to the SSC supports awareness, improved access to treatment and research efforts, too.

It is hoped that new, genomic technologies will allow researchers to assess individuals and develop more targeted schizophrenia treatments. As reported in the Guardian and other news outlets, new research indicates that both first and second-generation antipsychotics are about 60 percent effective at treating schizophrenia symptoms.

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