Study Makes Case for 8 Different Classes of Schizophrenia

DNA helix representing the makeup of a human beingSchizophrenia 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

The researchers found specific clusters of genes were strongly associated with specific symptoms. In one matching, for example, people experiencing hallucinations or delusions had specific genetic clusters. Among people with these genetic clusters, there was a 95% chance of eventually developing schizophrenia. Another genetic cluster yielded a 100% chance of developing schizophrenia. In this group, the most common symptoms were disorganized speech and erratic behavior.

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.

References:

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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  • IRene

    IRene

    September 17th, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    This could be the breakthrough that researchers have been looking for for years now.

    Just because something looks the same on the surface does not necessarily mean that it is the same and I think that these types of genetic tests, although expensive, could be part of the answer as to how there can be better treatments developed for schizophrenia. I knwo there is a lot more testing to come and with that I hope that there will also be a lot more answers for the families who so desperately need them.

  • mrnickname

    mrnickname

    September 17th, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    There is a reason your gas is unleaded and buildings are shut down due to lead based paint infestation. Lead and other heavy metals cause these disorders but sadly heavy metal chelation is not accepted by drs who say the use of vitamins and nutrition is dangerous.

  • kricketdawn

    kricketdawn

    November 20th, 2014 at 4:50 AM

    I just wanted to say I agree with you, I have read about carbon dioxide poisoning has the same effects.

  • Kellen

    Kellen

    September 18th, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    Could you clarify if this new research goes against the traditional thoughts on schizophrenia and how it has routinely been treated in the past?

  • Bennett m

    Bennett m

    September 26th, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    There is something that is so sad about the schizophrenic and the things that this young person must endure over the course of his lifetime. It is made even more sad for me because this is one of those diseases that almost strikes someone in the prime of their life and then their world as they know it is over.

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