New Research Reveals Schizophrenia as a Group of Eight Separate Disorders
A new study has revealed that schizophrenia is not a single genetic disease, but in fact a class of diseases with variable symptoms. Schizophrenia is severe mental disorder that causes debilitating symptoms, including paranoid delusions, auditory hallucinations, and impaired social behavior.
The research was led by C. Robert Cloninger of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the results were published online on September 15 in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
To identify the genetic roots of schizophrenia, Cloninger's team analyzed the genomes of 4,200 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and 3,800 controls. They looked at almost 700,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the genome, which are common locations for genetic variation by only one base pair.
They were then able to sort the schizophrenic patients by symptom type and severity and compare SNPs. They found that it wasn't one or even a small handful of genes acting independently to cause one disorder, but it was a total of 42 genetic clusters working together that were responsible for bringing out the symptoms for not one disease, but eight separate disorders.
The results of this study provide incredibly clear connections between SNPs and symptoms. Certain genetic variations were 95% accurate in predicting delusions and hallucinations while other SNPS were 100% accurate in estimating speech and behavior anomalies associated with schizophrenia.
Though there are environmental factors such as drug use and emotional trauma that contribute to the onset of schizophrenia symptoms, the disorder is attributed to genetics about 80% of the time.
Robert Cloninger said, "Genes don't operate by themselves. They function in concert much like an orchestra, and to understand how they're working, you have to know not just who the members of the orchestra are but how they interact".
This research could prove helpful in correctly diagnosing and treating a large number of patients who are severely suffering because of their symptoms.
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