A new study has found that there is not a single type of schizophrenia, but that it consists of a group made up of eight genetically different types of diseases. The research, jointly conducted by the University of Granada (Spain) and Washington University in St. Louis (US), could be an important first step towards a better diagnosis and treatment of the disease, which affects approximately 1 percent of world population.
Previous study has revealed that about 80 percent of the risk of suffering from schizophrenia was hereditary. The new study has for the first time identified the different gene networks that contribute to the existence of eight different types of schizophrenia.
The research involved 4,196 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and 3,200 healthy patients participated as control group.
Igor Zwir, a researcher at the University of Granada and co-author of the study says that, “After a decade of frustration in the field of psychiatric genetics, we identified the manner in which the genes interact with each other, in an orchestrated manner in the case of healthy patients, or disorganised, as happens in the cases that lead to the different types of schizophrenia.”
In some patients with hallucinations or delirium, for instance, scientists agree that there are different networks of genes related to their respective symptoms, which demonstrates that specific genetic variations interact with each other.
This genetic analysis leads to 95 percent certainty in predicting the onset of schizophrenia.
Scientists divided the patients according to the type and seriousness of positive symptoms such as different types of hallucinations or deliriums, or negative symptoms such as lack of initiative, troubles in organising thoughts, or lack of connection between emotion and thought.
Researchers say, “Though individual genes only present weak, inconsistent associations with schizophrenia, the interaction networks of gene groups pose a high risk of suffering from the disease, between 70 and 100 percent, “which makes it almost impossible that individuals with those genetic variation networks will avoid schizophrenia.”
Scientists found a total of 42 genes groups that influenced in a variety of ways the risk of suffering schizophrenia.