The largest genome-wide association study of schizophrenia ever conducted has found that more than 100 genetic variants are associated with the disease.
Prior to the study only about 30 genetic regions that contributed to the development of schizophrenia had been identified; however researchers found that 128 genetic risk variants (83 of which were new) contributed to risk in the majority of schizophrenia cases.
The discovery, published in the top journal Nature, is an important step towards improving treatments and outcomes for patients with the mental illness. Many of the genes identified are involved in neurotransmission which could lead to new therapies.
Emeritus Professor with the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Luba Kalaydjeva was part of the huge international collaboration which was led by researchers in Boston, USA and Cambridge and Cardiff in the UK.
It involved almost 37,000 schizophrenia patients.
An additional finding of the research was that associations were found in genes known to function in immune processes, which supports a longstanding hypothesis that schizophrenia is linked to dysfunction within the immune system.