Schizophrenia is widely considered one of the most serious mental health issues because of its tendency to induce hallucinations, delusions, and erratic behavior. It turns out, though, that schizophrenia may be more complex than previously believed. A new study has found that there may in fact be eight different classes of schizophrenia, each with its own distinct patterns.
Genetic Influences on Schizophrenia
Scientists have long believed that schizophrenia is about 80% heritable, meaning that 80% of schizophrenia-related differences between people are due to genetics. Locating specific genes that cause schizophrenia has proven challenging since genes usually do not act by themselves. Instead, most genetic disorders are caused by clusters of genes interacting with one another. According to the latest study’s authors, most previous research failed because it focused on locating a specific gene that causes schizophrenia.
To evaluate the effect of genetics on schizophrenia, researchers conducted genetic tests on 4,200 people experiencing schizophrenia and 3,800 people with no signs or symptoms of schizophrenia. They compared the genetic clusters they found to specific symptoms in people with schizophrenia.
What Scientists Discovered
While targeted treatments based on a genetic profile are not yet available, the study’s authors hope their research will lead to novel treatments. Schizophrenia is notoriously challenging to treat, and the side effects of common medications can be severe. If clinicians are able to differentiate one form of schizophrenia from another, it could change the landscape of schizophrenia treatments.
Dryden, J. (2014, September 15). Schizophrenia not a single disease but multiple genetically distinct disorders. Retrieved from http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/27358.aspx
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