In what is defined as one of the largest DNA sequencing studies related to schizophrenia, a group of researchers led by Tarjinder Singh has discovered 10 new genes implicated in the development of this pathology with a method called “whole-exome sequencing.” The researchers used genetic data from more than 125,000 people to obtain various information regarding the genetic basis of schizophrenia itself. The results of the research were then presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics 2019 in Houston.
One of the reasons that led researchers to use DNA sequencing to obtain information on schizophrenia is that for this disease, in the last fifty years, there has been quite limited progress regarding the development of new drugs. However, the use of new genetic techniques is proving very useful, in recent years, in many fields and the same researchers believe that useful results can also be obtained to discover mechanisms underlying schizophrenia.
The latter is one of the psychiatric disorders not yet fully understood. It is believed, however, that its development can be accelerated by disorders concerning some genes that encode certain proteins. Because these are rare genetic changes, the researchers used a very large set of people. Of the 125,000 people analyzed, 25,000 of them had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. People came from all five continents.
Following the analyzes, the researchers identified 10 genes that, once they stopped their functions, caused an increased risk of schizophrenia, as Singh himself stated in the press release. Two of these 10 genes encoded glutamate receptors, indicating that these receptors could potentially be a target for future therapies against schizophrenia.