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deCODE-led Megastudy Finds New Genetic Clues to Causes of Schizophrenia
Date:7/1/2009

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, July 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The largest study of the genetics of schizophrenia ever undertaken has revealed several new common single-letter variants in the sequence of the human genome (SNPs) linked to risk of the disease. The study, by a multinational consortium of scientists led by a team from deCODE genetics (Nasdaq: DCGN), analyzed the genomes of more than 50,000 patients and control participants from fourteen countries. It is published today in the online edition of Nature.

One of the SNPs is located near the neurogranin gene (NRGN) on chromosome 11. NRGN may be a candidate drug target, as it appears to play an important role in regulating both memory and cognition, processes that are often perturbed in schizophrenics. Another SNP is in the transcription factor 4 (TCF4) gene on chromosome 18, which is involved in brain development. Five of the SNPs are located very closely together in the Major Histocompatibility Complex, a region on chromosome 6 densely packed with genes regulating immune response. This lends support to previous research suggesting a possible environmental link between schizophrenia immune response. It has long been known, for example, that a disproportionately large number of schizophrenics are born in the winter and spring, when influenza rates are usually highest. All of the variants found in this study are very common and each is associated with a modest increase in risk.

"Genetics offers a unique window for better understanding diseases like schizophrenia because the brain and cognition are so little understood and so difficult to study. Discoveries such as these are crucial for teasing out the biology of the disease and making it possible for us to begin to develop drugs targeting the underlying causes and not just the symptoms of the disease. One of the rea
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SOURCE DeCODE Genetics Inc
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