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New Genetic Links Found Between Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder

An international team of more than 250 researchers from 20 countries have completed a landmark study of the relationship between genetic variations and mental illness.

Investigators studied more than 50,000 adults and found that common genetic variations contribute to a person’s risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Investigators say the findings provide new molecular evidence that 11 DNA regions, including six regions not previously observed, are linked to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Researchers participating in the Psychiatric Genome-Wide Association Study Consortium have published two papers on their findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

The experts say the discovery of these genetic linkages will allow scientists to make major gains toward understanding the causes of these chronic, severe, and debilitating disorders.

The study was unique as researchers examined all or most of the genes of different individuals to see how much the genes vary from individual to individual.

“This is the largest study of its kind by far,” said Patrick F. Sullivan, M.D., a principal investigator in the study.

The study that focused on schizophrenia identified “strong evidence for seven different places in the human genome, five of which were new and two previously implicated, that contain DNA changes that are significantly associated with schizophrenia,” Sullivan said.

And in a joint analysis of a schizophrenia and bipolar disorder sample, the consortium found three different DNA regions, or loci, in which both disorders reached genome-wide statistical significance.

“This tells us that these disorders, which many of us have considered to be separate things, actually share fundamental similarity,” Sullivan said.

“The consortium is the largest research consortium ever in psychiatry and is certainly the largest biological experiment we’ve ever done in the field,” Sullivan said.

“We are studying on the order of 90,000 individuals across multiple disorders, while trying to do something for the greater good, which is effectively to go as far and as deep as we can in understanding the genomics of mental illness.”

Source: University of North Carolina School of Medicine

New Genetic Links Found Between Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). New Genetic Links Found Between Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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