Largest-ever Schizophrenia Study Finds Over a Hundred Genetic Links

A new schizophrenia study, published online today in the journal Nature, has uncovered over a hundred genetic links for the disorder, at least 83 of which were unknown before.

This new study confirms what has long been thought about schizophrenia. As the largest study to-date for the disease, it solidifies the mental disorder’s biological roots, putting it on par with other medical conditions. This, says the researchers who conducted the study, could change how it’s treated.

According to the BBC, scientists have long debated the relative role genes play in schizophrenia. The condition affects more than 24 million people globally and was named at the turn of the century by a Swiss psychiatrist, according to PsyWeb.com.

This new schizophrenia study involved a global consortium of researchers across 35 countries, examining the make-up of more than 37,000 people afflicted with schizophrenia. The study compared them with about 110,000 people who were not diagnosed with the disease. The results were the pinpointing of more than 100 genes that make people more susceptible to schizophrenia, 83 of which had never been noted before, the study says.

“Some are very familiar genes expressed in nerve cells, and some are results where you scratch your head and you know you have more work to do” to understand their role in schizophrenia, said Steven Hyman, Director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT to USA Today.

MIT was today the recipient of a large donation from philanthropist Ted Stanley, allowing them to continue with studies like this one.

The new findings will mean further avenues of research and possible new directions for pharmaceutical professionals and therapists to pursue in finding ways to help those who suffer from schizophrenia. The study could lead to means of prevention, earlier diagnosis and better treatments over the long run, say psychiatrists. All of this is good news for those who suffer from the disease.

More than that, however, it pushes schizophrenia into the “biological” arena of medical study. This changes how it’s viewed by the medical community, and how schizophrenia study in the future will take place. This means better acceptance, a more scientific approach and possibly faster adoption of new techniques and ideas for its treatment.

All are a big boon to those who suffer from schizophrenia. Perhaps the most powerful outcome of this new schizophrenia study will be the new-found acceptance of the disease by not only the holistic and psychiatric therapies already used but by the medical study and treatment communities.