Genetic Discovery May Lead to New Treatment for Schizophrenia

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

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • COBB


    July 13th, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Wow,we humans are really moving ahead! Figuring out a genetic mutation is no easy task yet we seem to keep discovering newer things like these quite often.

    And the right thing to do now would be to capitalize on the finding and slowly spread the word and find better treatments.

  • F.G. Hart

    F.G. Hart

    July 14th, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    I wondered if schizophrenia can be passed on as a genetic marker, since my grandfather was schizophrenic. He had it appear late in his adult life and I’m a bit worried I’ll wind up with it too. I feel I understand the condition well enough and I doubt it would affect me but the possibility is always at the back of my mind.

  • casey


    July 14th, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    so is there something or some little disorder that will give us an idea about whether a person may suffer from schizophrenia?such a test could be very valuable because preventive medication could then come into the picture and rid a lot of people of this widespread disorder.

  • Kevin V.

    Kevin V.

    July 14th, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    The more we know about genetic markers and how to interpret them, the better. Look at the damage a single chromosome can do. If a child’s born with an extra chromosome, what do they have? Down’s Syndrome. Without knowing to look for such genetic markers in the past, there’s no way doctors could detect that before birth and give the parents the chance to make an informed choice.

  • Brendan Hawkins

    Brendan Hawkins

    July 14th, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Not really understanding how a genetic issue can suddenly cause someone to have hallucinations, a common symptom of schizophrenia. What triggers that? There has to be something that kicks it into high gear.

  • AshLee


    July 15th, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Encouraging development I’d say.And the earlier they bring this to the application level the better it is.And these kind of treatment techniques involving genetic studies are supposed to be very precise,right?

  • Chance Henson

    Chance Henson

    July 15th, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    Schizophrenia is arguably one of the most debilitating mental health challenges you can have. It’s not surprising to me at all since the most severe forms can completely distort your reality to where real life is unrecognizable.

    I hope this speeds the process of finding and determining effective treatments for schizophrenics and even perhaps helps those who may develop it before it manifests.

  • Caroline R.

    Caroline R.

    July 15th, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    I don’t like the idea of genetic testing for mental illness. Many parents choose to abort children who have Down’s syndrome. If that expands to things like latent schizophrenia, autism, and even lesser (to me anyway) conditions like OCD and ADHD, I might have to seriously rethink my pro-choice stance.

  • zack docherty

    zack docherty

    July 15th, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    @Caroline R.-I doubt it would come to that. And you can’t just walk into a clinic and have an abortion on demand just like that. There’s paperwork, doctor’s appointments and counseling involved before you can get booked in for the procedure.

    No doctor would allow the procedure to happen just because the child might have mild autism or be hyperactive. There has to be a valid medical reason for conducting it, and that isn’t one.

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