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Mount Sinai Scientists and International Team Shed New Light on Schizophrenia in Largest Genomic Study Published to Date
Date:7/22/2014

New York, NY (PRWEB) July 22, 2014

As part of a multinational, collaborative effort, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have helped identify over 100 locations in the human genome associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia, in the largest genomic study published on any psychiatric disorder to date, conducted with 80,000 people. The findings, published online in Nature, point to biological mechanisms and pathways that may underlie schizophrenia, and could lead to new approaches to treating the disorder, which has seen little innovation in drug development in more than 60 years.

Schizophrenia, a debilitating psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 1 out of every 100 people worldwide, is characterized by hallucinations, paranoia, and a breakdown of thought processes, and often emerges in the teens and early 20s. Its lifetime impact on individuals and society is high, both in terms of years of healthy life lost to disability and in terms of financial cost, with studies estimating the cost of schizophrenia at over $60 billion annually in the U.S. alone.

“By studying the genome, we are getting a better handle on the genetic variations that are making people vulnerable to psychiatric disease," said Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which helped fund the study. “Through the wonders of genomic technology, we are in a period in which, for the first time, we are beginning to understand many of the players at the molecular and cellular level.”

In the genome-wide association study (GWAS) published in Nature, the authors looked at over 80,000 genetic samples from schizophrenia patients and healthy volunteers and found 108 specific locations in the human genome associated with risk for schizophrenia. Eighty-three of those loci had not previously been linked to the disorder.

“Through its open and extensive worldwide data sharing pol
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