THE way schizophrenia is treated could change after the identification of more than 100 genetic variants associated with the disease.
University of Newcastle researchers have helped detect 108 loci where the DNA sequence for schizophrenia was different to those without the disease, and create an algorithm that calculates the risk each variant contributes.
Previously only 30 genetic loci had been identified.
Professor Rodney Scott, Associate Professor Carmel Loughland, Professor Ulli Schall, Emeritus Professor Patricia Michie and Associate Professor Frans Henskens were part of the psychiatric genomics consortium that co-ordinated the investigation.
Researchers could not predict who would develop it, but the results offered leads into the underlying cause.
‘‘Many of the variants discovered are involved in neurotransmission, highlighting a potential therapeutic avenue, while associations were also found in genes that function in immune processes,’’ Professor Scott said.
‘‘There is appears to be some similarities to the loci identified in multiple sclerosis, indicating the strong likelihood of an immune response element to schizophrenia.
‘‘Something is going on in terms of environment, which is just as powerful as in MS, and without that trigger a person possibly won’t get schizophrenia.’’
Data from the Newcastle-run Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank was pooled into a sample of 150,000, of whom almost 37,000 had been diagnosed with the disease.