The landmark study published in the journal Nature will not lead to new treatments nor to widely available testing for individual risk in the near future, but it does explains some mysteries surrounding the disease such as why the disorder often begins in adolescence.
The research pieced together the steps by which genes can increase a person’s risk for developing the disorder. The risk is related to a process called “synaptic pruning,” in which the brain sheds weak or redundant connections. The study suggests that people who carry genes that accelerate or intensify the pruning are at a higher risk of developing schizophrenia.
About 2 million Americans have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, a debilitating disease characterized by delusional thinking and hallucinations.
Why has discovering the cause of this disease been so elusive? How did you arrive at this conclusion? How much closer does this research bring us to finding a cure or early detection? How many people in California/Los Angeles have been diagnosed? What kinds of treatments are available? What does this research mean for people living with the disease?
Steve McCarroll, Associate professor of genetics at Harvard and the study’s lead researcher
Keith Nuechterlein, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA and Director of the UCLA Center for Neurocognition and Emotion in Schizophrenia