Schizophrenia isn’t a single disease but a group of eight genetically distinct disorders

by Jim Dryden

Schizophrenia not a single disease but multiple genetically distinct disorders
C. Robert Cloninger, MD, PhD, pictured in his office at Washington University School of Medicine, is a senior investigator of a study that shows that schizophrenia isn’t a single disease but a group of eight genetically distinct disorders. Credit: ROBERT BOSTON
New research shows that schizophrenia isn’t a single disease but a group of eight genetically distinct disorders, each with its own set of symptoms. The finding could be a first step toward improved diagnosis and treatment for the debilitating psychiatric illness.

The research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is reported online Sept. 15 in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

About 80 percent of the risk for is known to be inherited, but scientists have struggled to identify specific genes for the condition. Now, in a novel approach analyzing genetic influences on more than 4,000 people with schizophrenia, the research team has identified distinct gene clusters that contribute to eight different classes of schizophrenia.

“Genes don’t operate by themselves,” said C. Robert Cloninger, MD, PhD, one of the study’s senior investigators. “They function in concert much like an orchestra, and to understand how they’re working, you have to know not just who the members of the orchestra are but how they interact.” Read complete article.

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