February 10, 2009

New Genetic Link to Schizophrenia

A new study conducted at the Duke Institute for Genome and Sciences Policy suggests schizophrenia is in part caused by large, rare structural changes in DNA commonly called copy number variants, or CNVs. These new findings dismiss two decades of research that pointed to single letter alterations in DNA (SNPs) as possible candidates.

Researchers at Duke scanned the genome of schizophrenia patients and healthy controls for SNPs and CNVs. None of the SNPs appeared significant, but several CNVs did emerge as potential causes.

"What this means is that if we are going to make real headway in assessing genetic links to schizophrenia, we will have to sequence the entire genome of each schizophrenia patient," senior study author David Goldstein, Ph.D., of the Center for Human Genome Variation at Duke University in Durham, N.C., was quoted as saying. "That is a tremendous amount of work, but it is the only way we will be able to find these extremely rare variations."

SOURCE: PLoS Genetics, February 2009


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