De novo mutations, which are genetic anomalies found in people with a specific illness, but not found in their biological parents, appear to be common in people with schizophrenia, according to a recent study. Guy A. Roulea, M.D., Ph.D., and his team from the University of Montreal, conducted a study that they hope will lead to better treatment and comprehension of schizophrenia. “The occurrence of de novo mutations, as observed in this study, may in part explain the high worldwide incidence of schizophrenia,” said Rouleau.
Graduate student Simon Girard, who was a researcher on the study, said “Because the mutations are located in many different genes, we can now start to establish genetic networks that would define how these gene mutations predispose to schizophrenia. Most of the genes identified in this study have not been previously linked to schizophrenia, thereby providing new potential therapeutic targets.” Schizophrenia affects over 24 million people throughout the world, and less than half of those who suffer with this problem are receiving any care. The researchers looked at 20,000 genes from each test subject with schizophrenia, focusing primarily on the “de novo” mutations, in order to identify gene abnormalities that were not present in their parents, who did not have schizophrenia.
“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.” The isolation of these de novo mutations in people with schizophrenia is in alignment with previous findings that suggest that these types of genetic abnormalities may be linked to other neurological problems including mental retardation and autism. The researchers hope that this new study will pave the way for new treatment options to help those suffering with schizophrenia, specifically those who are not receiving adequate care and have not seen improvement of symptoms.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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