Schizophrenia gene discovered

Science Editor,Steve Connor
Friday 28 March 2008 01:00 GMT

Scientists have made an important breakthrough in understanding the genetic causes of schizophrenia, which affects one in 100 people and is one of the most costly mental illnesses for the NHS.

A study has found multiple mutations in many genes are likely to be a critical trigger for the condition, which underscores the importance DNA plays in whether someone is likely to have schizophrenia.

Medical researchers in the United States believe that the findings, in the journal Science, will raise fresh hopes of developing a new class of drugs to combat the effects of the genetic mutations on the brain.

Thomas Insel, director of the US National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, which oversaw the study on 150 schizophrenic patients whose DNA was compared to that of 268 healthy people, said: "Identifying genes prone to harbouring these mutations in brain development pathways holds promise for treatment and prevention of schizophrenia, as well as a wide range of other neurodevelopmental brain disorders."

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