GLEN OAKS, NY Scientists at the Zucker Hillside Hospital campus of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have identified nine genetic markers that can increase a persons risk for schizophrenia. In a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research team uncovered original evidence that this disabling brain disease can be inherited in a recessive manner. A recessive trait is one that is inherited from both parents.
If a person inherits identical copies of these markers from each parent, his or her risk for schizophrenia increases substantially, said Todd Lencz, PhD, associate director of research at Zucker Hillside and the lead author of the study. If these results are confirmed, they could open up new avenues for research in schizophrenia and severe mental illness, said Anil Malhotra, MD, director of psychiatric research at Zucker Hillside and senior investigator of the study.
The scientists developed a complex mathematical approach called whole genome homozygosity association (WGHA) that provides a new way of analyzing genetic information. It enables scientists to simultaneously look at genetic information derived from the patients mother and father, and identify pieces of chromosomes that are identical. They tested genetic material from 178 patients and 144 controls.
It has been the prevailing view in psychiatric genetics that there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of genetic variations that could lead to schizophrenia, but each gene has a small effect. It is the wrong mix of many genes, plus unknown environmental stressors, that trigger the onset of symptoms. One in every 100 people suffer from schizophrenia, a condition marked by episodes of hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking.
The new findings suggest another scenario, at least for a subset of patients. Dr. Lencz and his colleagues identified nine regions along the chromosomes that might play a lar
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