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UC San Diego-Led Study Finds Genetic Links To High Schizophrenia Risk

An international team led by a UC San Diego researcher has identified several genetic mutations that are linked to a high risk of schizophrenia.

A new study that examined the genomes of more than 41,000 people has identified some mutations that carry a high risk of schizophrenia.

The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.

The research was conducted by an international team, the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, led by UC San Diego’s Jonathan Sebat, chief of the Beyster Center for Genomics of Neuropsychiatric Diseases.

Researchers found eight rare mutations in the human genome, known as copy number variants, that they say are strongly linked to a high risk of schizophrenia.

Sebat said the genetics of schizophrenia is complex and includes a host of different factors.

"And so this is one of the factors where a subset of patients have some really severe mutation that carries a lot of risk," he said.

Schizophrenia is a chronic, often disabling brain disorder that affects about 1 percent of the population.

Sebat believes the new study could have broad implications.

"Because the factors that we’re finding are basically genes that are involved in normal brain development," he explained. "So, by finding a defect, that contributes to schizophrenia, you’re able to understand a fundamental aspect of how the brain develops."

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