16:16 22 July 2014
Scientists have conducted the largest study into the genetic basis of mental illnesses and found more than 100 genes that play some kind of role in the development of schizophrenia – a mental disease that affects one in every 100 people and costs British taxpayers about £2bn a year to treat.
Scientists are hopeful that the identification of the precise locations in the human genome that is involved with the illness could help them understand the causes as well as help in developing new treatments.
Tom Insel, director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, which co-funded the study: “By studying the genome, we are getting a better handle on the genetic variations that are making people vulnerable to psychiatric disease.”
Michael O’Donovan, professor of psychiatric genetics at the Medical Research Council’s neurogenetics centre at Cardiff University, added: “It is absolutely crystal clear now that genetics is involved in schizophrenia and although the biological implications of the genetics are not yet clear, we’re beginning to see patterns emerging from the data.”
“The big picture is that large collaborations like this into schizophrenia has the capacity to crack the illness open in the same way that similar studies have done to other diseases with a genetic basis,” he added.