A recent study published in the journal Nature has confirmed 108 locations within the human genome that are linked directly to schizophrenia, 83 of which were completely new discoveries. Aiden Corvin, professor of psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin’s school of medicine, was one of the lead authors of the study, which analyzed more than 80,000 genetic samples, including some 3,500 Irish contributions.
The study was performed by the schizophrenia working group of Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which is an international body that includes TCD scientists. International collaborations such as this are increasingly common in the medical fields because they allow researchers to perform studies on tens of thousands of samples, which allows for more accurate results. That ability also has the potential to increase the speed at which new drugs are developed and hit the market.
“In genomics, collaboration is key,” Corvin told The Irish Times. “Now that we have more pieces of the puzzle, we are starting to group genes into identifiable pathways so that we can explore schizophrenia at a biological level.”
Every year, about 100 people in Ireland are diagnosed with schizophrenia, which can cause both visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and other cognitive challenges. But while much is known about the symptoms, less is known about the underlying genetic causes of the mental disorder, and current drug therapies are limited and out of date.
To put it simply, there’s Dr. Gerome Breen, from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London: “This is perhaps the most important study in psychiatric genetics to date.”