Testing for schizophrenia and bipolar disease may be dangerously inaccurate, according to scientists. A recent Reuters report on Health News suggests that as many as 30,000 different gene variations could underlie these diseases, making the predictability of these diseases very difficult to determine.
A multinational group of researchers examined the DNA of 10,000 people with schizophrenia and 20,000 without, and found 30,000 common gene variations linked with the mental illness. This research also highlighted just how complex these diseases really are.
“It’s like we’ve got a ‘join-the-dots picture’, and we now know we have several thousands of dots to be joined,” Mick O’Donovan of London’s Institute of Psychiatry, who worked on one of the studies, told reporters. “But we don’t even have numbers on them yet so we don’t know in what order to connect them up.”
The scientists involved in this research stressed this research supported the theory that testing could not adequately predict the likelihood of a person developing schizophrenia or bipolar, both of which can be devastating diseases.
Working under the International Schizophrenia Consortium, the scientists found the same genetic patterns linked to bipolar disorder as in schizophrenia. Previous studies had already identified a genetic basis to schizophrenia, suggesting a large number of genes and genetic combinations could cause the disorder.
“Discoveries such as these are crucial for teasing out the biology of the disease making it possible for us to begin to develop drugs targeting the underlying causes and not just the symptoms of the disease,” said Kari Stefansson, chief executive of Decode Genetics of Iceland, who worked on one of the studies published in the journal Nature.
The work conducted by these scientists can help to formulate the proper direction further research and treatment must take in order to effectively help those suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.