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Schizophrenia can present itself with any number of symptoms, from disorganized thinking or motor behavior, to hallucinations or delusions. Together these manifestations often leave a patient unable to function normally and with very few effective treatment options. And though researchers had not been able to figure out the underlying cause of the disease, they’ve learned a lot in the past few years — genetic mutations probably play a role, as does the immune system and the microbiome. Now scientists have identified a genetic variant in schizophrenic patients that links many of these previous observations, according to a study published in Nature. If the researchers have in fact discovered the underlying biological cause for schizophrenia as they claim, it could lead to better treatments for the condition.
Over the past five years, the researchers have collected genetic data from 65,000 people in 30 countries. They knew that mutations in certain genes were linked to schizophrenia, but the researchers wanted to use their huge dataset to find the strongest correlation possible. And they found one — people with highly expressed variations of a gene called complement component 4 (C4) were much more likely to develop schizophrenia. They confirmed the connection between C4 genes and protein production by analyzing 700 samples of human brains.
Read full, original post: Scientists discover genetic, biologic cause of schizophrenia