Genetic Sequencing Technology Helps Uncover New Potential Causes of Schizophrenia

Anne Bassett, M.D., F.R.C.P.C. - Brain & behavior research expert on schizophrenia
Anne Bassett, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.

In a first-of-its-kind schizophrenia study, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Grantees Anne Bassett, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.; Janice Husted, Ph.D.; Eva W.C. Chow, M.D.; Christian R. Marshall, Ph.D. and colleagues at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, used clinical DNA testing of 459 Canadian adults with schizophrenia. They discovered rare genetic alterations that may contribute to onset of the disease. Several of these same genetic lesions had previously been found to have causal links to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and several are newly discovered as linked to schizophrenia, including lesions on chromosome 2.

"We found a significant number of large rare changes in the chromosome structure that we then reported back to the patients and their families," said Dr. Anne Bassett, Director of CAMH's Clinical Genetics Research Program and Canada Research Chair in Schizophrenia Genetics and Genomic Disorders at the University of Toronto. "In total, we expect that up to eight percent of schizophrenia may be caused in part by such genetic changes—this translates to roughly one in every 13 people with the illness."

These findings, published online on June 27, 2013 in Human Molecular Genetics, suggest that DNA testing may be helpful in early detection and treatment as well as in de-stigmatization of schizophrenia.

The research team also developed a systematic approach to the discovery and analysis of new, smaller rare genetic changes leading to schizophrenia, which provides dozens of new leads for scientists studying the illness. “Moving forward, we will be able to study common pathways affected by these different genetic changes and examine how they affect brain development—the more we know about where the illness comes from, the more possibilities there will be for the development of new treatments," says Dr. Bassett.

Read the Study Abstract in Human Molecular Genetics

Read the CAMH Study Announcement

Article comments

i guess it would be correct to say you are going to have the ability to treat the sz by adding genes are not.all i know is the genes are going to give us insight. it sounds like allot of reserch has to be done but if you can do that it would be awesome.

It is good when new findings come out about the molecular genetic aspects of schizophrenia. However through the past decades many such findings have been published, but they are yet to make a significant contribution in identifying schizophrenia accurately, understanding the mechanisms that contribute or cause the symptoms, or help in treatment. We have a ver, very long way to go yet. Right now, clinically we are where we were forty years or more back. Almost nothing has changed.

Where can someone diagnosed with mental illness have genetic testing ?

having a son with this illness i am glad to hear we are moving on. We are from Canada and it has been a long haul with this illness for my son and my other two children it has been 15 years it is the most cruellest mental illness there is it is unbelieveable to those who do not know it and to those who do the horrible thing is they know what is happing to thire mind they can see through the horror and is not the mind where we can balance things.

My son was recently dx d with still trying to understand what has happened. any new information on this illness i am very interested

My mom have this. We grew up with it but the last 8years since my brother past away it has realy been bad. It is terrible to see my mom like this, she don't care about anything anymore. The medication she use suppress her emotions. The mom who teached me about cleanliness and wearing clean clothes everyday is now wearing the same clothes for a week, doesn't worry about herself...its terrible...l miss my mom(crying) l wish l can help her. My dad is ill himself but have to take care of her because she can't take care of herself. I'm here to help for now but there is only so much l can do. She still have that will of her own and doesn't listen to nobody...especially me.

Would you know of Biogenetic testing for Schizophrenia or psychosis at CAMh

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