A new study has linked schizophrenia, a mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally, with two newly discovered genes. Also a previously identified gene linked to the risk of schizophrenia was also connected to autism.
The findings that were published in the March 13 online issue of Nature Genetics stated that this recent study-and most other large-scale human genetics studies-was mainly composed of individuals of European (EUR) ancestry, and the generalizability of the findings in non-EUR populations remains unclear.
The multi-center study, which was directed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, further showed that the risk of schizophrenia provided by these uncommonly harmful mutations is constant across ethnic groups. The study might possibly suggest novel treatments.
The investigators found the two risk genes, SRRM2 and AKAP11, by comparing the gene sequences of people with schizophrenia to those of healthy controls.
“By focusing on a subset of genes, we discovered rare damaging variants that could potentially lead to new medicines for schizophrenia,” said the lead author of the study Dongjing Liu.
“Also significant: studying people of various ancestral backgrounds, we found that rare damaging variants in evolutionarily constrained genes confer a similar magnitude of schizophrenia risk among those different populations and that genetic factors previously established in predominantly white people have now been extended to non-whites for this debilitating disease.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Schizophrenia causes psychosis and is associated with considerable disability and may affect all areas of life including personal, family, social, educational, and occupational functioning.
Schizophrenia affects approximately 24 million people or 1 in 300 people (0.32%) worldwide. This rate is 1 in 222 people (0.45%) among adults (2). It is not as common as many other mental disorders. Onset is most often during late adolescence and the twenties, and onset tends to happen earlier among men than among women.