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New Clues to Schizophrenia

Researchers Identify Genes Linked With the Mental Illness, Create Risk Test

Predicting Schizophrenia continued...

It is a prediction only. "In the end, your genes are not your destiny."

"A higher score on the test we developed just means your brain connectivity may be be different," he says.

That could lead to creativity or illness, depending on other genes and environmental factors.

The researchers also found much genetic "overlap" between schizophrenia and other disorders, including bipolar and anxiety disorders.

That may help put the focus on treating symptoms, Niculescu says. That, in turn, may reduce the ''labeling" of mental illness and its stigma, he says.

Niculescu is a founder of Mindscape Diagnostics. A co-author is a founder of Cypher Genomics.

Genetics of Schizophrenia: Perspective

The researchers have simplified what is a ''very confusing area," says Stephen R. Marder, MD, professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute of the University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine. He reviewed the findings for WebMD.

"They have integrated information from very large genetic studies on schizophrenia and other kinds of studies and come up with patterns that may help us understand the genetics of schizophrenia," he says.

The new model, he says, suggests that risk is affected by how the brain develops and forms connections, and how factors in the environment may affect genes.

"This new research points to looking not so much at specific abnormal genes, but looking at actually what the genes do in the brain to make people vulnerable to schizophrenia," he says.

Marder reports consultant work for Amgen, Abbott, Pfizer, Lundbeck, Roche, and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company. He is also director of the Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center at the VA of Greater Los Angeles.

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