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Schizophrenia linked to genetic brain tissue development

Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Washington and the National Institute of Mental Health found that deletions, disruptions and duplications of normal genes were three to four times more frequent in people with schizophrenia.

Rare mutations showed up in only 5 percent of the healthy people in the recent study vs. 15 percent of those with schizophrenia. The rate of rare mutation was 20 percent among patients who had developed the mental illness before age 19.

“This part of our findings indicates something we didn’t know before: that rare structural mutations in genes, while present in both healthy people and people with schizophrenia, are much more likely to occur among people with the illness,” said senior author Jonathan Sebat of Cold Spring Harbor. “This suggests a previously unknown role for rare mutations in the causation of schizophrenia.”

Up to now, scientists have not been able to find a common theme for known variations in genes and schizophrenia. The mutations found by the gene mapping all dealt genes involved in brain tissue development.

Although the recent subject doesn’t bring treatments for schizophrenia, it does advance the understanding of the basis of the disease; something that has to be done before improved medication can be developed.