Authors: Sharon Salt, Editor
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro; Canada) and McGill University (Montreal, Canada) have identified novel genes associated with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a major psychiatric illness affecting 1% of the population worldwide. These patients usually present with delusions, hallucinations, abnormal behavior, impairment in daily life and cognitive deficits. Current treatments are insufficient in addressing all of these symptoms.
The heritability of schizophrenia is estimated at 80%, however, the identification of genes associated with this illness has been challenging.
In order to identify new genetic variants of illness, scientists believed that exploring an extreme and severe form of schizophrenia would be beneficial. The researchers decided to focus on childhood-onset schizophrenia, which a rare and severe form of the illness and is defined as onset before the age of 13. Patients suffering from childhood-onset schizophrenia are generally severely disabled and do not complete a normal school curriculum, nor develop a social life.