Navigation Links
International team sheds new light on biology underlying schizophrenia
Date:7/21/2014

July 21, 2014 (Toronto) As part of a multinational, collaborative effort, researchers from Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have helped identify over 100 locations in the human genome associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia, in what is the largest genomic study published on any psychiatric disorder to date. The findings, published online in Nature, point to biological mechanisms and pathways that may underlie schizophrenia, and could lead to new approaches to treating the disorder, which has seen little innovation in drug development in more than 60 years.

The research was led by senior author Michael O'Donovan at Cardiff University School of Medicine, and CAMH was the only Canadian site in the collaboration.

Schizophrenia, a debilitating mental illness that affects approximately one out of every 100 people worldwide, is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking, and often emerges in the teens and early 20s. Its lifetime impact on individuals and society is high, both in terms of direct health-care and other costs, as well as lost productivity and unemployment, which costs an estimated $6.85 billion a year in Canada.

Medications currently on the market treat only one of the symptoms of the illness (psychosis), and there are no effective treatments for the debilitating cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. In part, treatment options are limited because the biological mechanisms underlying schizophrenia have not been understood.

Recent research focusing on the genetic underpinnings of schizophrenia has revealed the complexity of the illness. Evidence suggests that it is caused by the combined effects of many genes, and roughly two dozen genomic regions have been found to be associated with schizophrenia. The new study confirms those earlier findings, and expands our understanding of the genetic basis of schizophrenia and its underlying biology.

In the genome-wide association study (GWAS) published in Nature, the authors looked at 36,989 genetic samples from schizophrenia patients and 113,075 healthy volunteers and found 108 specific locations in the human genome associated with risk for schizophrenia. Eighty-three of those loci had not previously been linked to the illness.

"Large collaborative efforts such as this one are needed to identify genes that influence complex disorders," said Dr. Jo Knight, Senior Scientist and Joanne Murphy Professor in Behavioural Science, who spearheaded CAMH's involvement in this project. "The result is a major advance in understanding the genetic basis of brain functioning in schizophrenia," said Dr. Knight, who is also Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

The study was conducted within CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, and CAMH researchers Dr. James Kennedy and Dr. Clement Zai were also on the study team.

The study implicates genes expressed in brain tissue, particularly those related to the functioning of brain cells (neurons) and of the channels enabling chemical and electrical signaling between neurons (synapses). These include genes that are active in pathways controlling synaptic plasticity a function essential to learning and memory and pathways governing activity in the target cell receiving signals.

Additionally, the researchers found a smaller number of genes associated with schizophrenia that are active in the immune system. This discovery offers some support for a previously hypothesized link between schizophrenia and immunological processes. The study also found an association between the illness and the region of the genome that holds DRD2 the gene that produces the dopamine receptor targeted by all approved medications for schizophrenia suggesting that other loci uncovered in the study may point to additional therapeutic targets.

"The fact that we were able to detect genetic risk factors on this massive scale shows that schizophrenia can be tackled by the same approaches that have already transformed our understanding of other diseases," said senior author Dr. Michael O'Donovan, deputy director of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University School of Medicine. "The wealth of new findings has the potential to kick-start the development of new treatments in schizophrenia, a process which has stalled for the last 60 years."

The study is the result of several years of work by the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), an international, multi-institutional collaboration founded in 2007 to conduct broad-scale analyses of genetic data for psychiatric disease. A total of 55 datasets from more than 40 different contributors, including CAMH, was needed to conduct the analysis.

The samples used in this study represent all of the genotyped datasets for schizophrenia that the consortium has amassed to date. The PGC is currently genotyping new samples to further study schizophrenia and additional psychiatric diseases, including autism and bipolar disorder.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kate Richards
kate.richards@camh.ca
416-535-8501 x36015
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UC Riverside entomologist receives international honor for chemical ecology contributions
2. Louisiana Tech University professor presents at International Bioprinting Congress
3. Montreal hosts International Union of Microbiology Societies congresses
4. International Space Station researcher guides aim to maximize science
5. Registration is now open for the HFES 2014 International Annual Meeting
6. Largest International Meeting for the Study of Reproductive Biology Attracts Researchers from 36 Countries in Grand Rapids, Michigan
7. International Biometrics Technology Market - Industry Analysis Size Share Growth Trends and Forecast to 2019
8. Marshall University to partner with international company in drug development venture
9. The ICIST-KAIST International Conference 2014 from August 4-8, 2014 in Korea
10. International Tree Nut Council study results may help people with type 2 diabetes
11. 10th International Symposium on Earthworm Ecology
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/28/2017)... , March 28, 2017 The ... Hardware (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, ... Region - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... 2016 and is projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion ... and 2022. The base year considered for the study ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... 24, 2017 The Controller General of Immigration from ... Abdulla Algeen have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the ... Continue Reading ... ... Controller Abdulla Algeen (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... The report "Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing Market by Technology (Touch-based ... to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be worth USD ... 2022. Continue Reading ... ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. ... Cancer Research, London (ICR) and University ... SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma ... MUK nine . The University of Leeds ... partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, has ... The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal to ... period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet cooking ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... 10, 2017 International research firm Parks Associates announced ... at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in ... residential home security market and how smart safety and security products impact ... Parks Associates: Smart Home ... "The residential security market has ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... DIEGO , Oct. 9, 2017  BioTech ... biological mechanism by which its ProCell stem cell ... critical limb ischemia.  The Company, demonstrated that treatment ... amount of limbs saved as compared to standard ... the molecule HGF resulted in reduction of therapeutic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: