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Immunity, Signaling Might Be Related To Schizophrenia

Update Date: Jul 23, 2014 05:11 PM EDT

Psychiatry's most abiding mystery - schizophrenia - might lie in the DNA associated with the body's immune system, according to a new study.

The study recorded variations in nearly 150,000 DNA samples and identified 108 regions that strongly correlate with the highly heritable disorder, marked by psychotic episodes and cognitive deficits.

Majority of the areas of DNA identified by the study either include a functioning gene or are close to one, including those previously associated with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

According to the press release, the findings provide substantial support for a genetic root to the disorder and greatly narrow the search for genes that may cause the disease.

"The fact that we were able to detect genetic risk factors on this massive scale shows that schizophrenia can be tackled by the same approaches that have already transformed our understanding of other diseases," the study's senior author, Michael O'Donovan, director of the Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences at Cardiff University, said in a statement.

Other experts praised the study findings but cautioned that hope of a genetic key to the disease has been dashed before.

The study has been published in the journal Nature.

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