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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

icies, The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), which led this work, is having a major impact on our understanding of schizophrenia. Without these efforts it would have been impossible to gather and analyze DNA data from enough people with and without schizophrenia,” said Pamela Sklar, MD, PhD, co-author of the study, Chief of the Division of Psychiatric Genomics and Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The study implicates genes expressed in brain tissue, particularly those related to neuronal and synaptic function. These include genes that are active in pathways controlling synaptic plasticity – a function essential to learning and memory – and pathways governing postsynaptic activity, such as voltage-gated calcium channels, which are involved in signaling between cells in the brain. These newly identified loci may point to additional therapeutic targets.

“The fact that we were able to detect genetic risk factors on this massive scale shows that schizophrenia can be tackled by the same approaches that have already transformed our understanding of other diseases,” said paper co-author Michael O’Donovan, deputy director of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University School of Medicine. ‘The wealth of new findings have the potential to kick-start the development of new treatments in schizophrenia, a process which has stalled for the last 60 years.”

The study is the result of several years of work by the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC, http://pgc.unc.edu), an international, multi-institutional collaboration founded in 2007 to conduct broad-scale analyses of genetic data for psychiatric disease. The current paper used 55 datasets from more than 40 different contributors to conduct the analysis. The DNA data from
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