Schizophrenia Is Not a Single Condition, But Eight Distinct Disorders

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A new study claims that schizophrenia is not a single disease as previously believed, but a group of eight distinct disorders caused by changes in clusters of genes that lead to unique sets of symptoms.

C. Rober Clonginger, co-author of the study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, says the findings could lead to greatly improved diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia in the future.

“We are really opening a new era of psychiatric diagnosis,” says Cloninger, professor of psychiatry and genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Cloninger says he hopes his work will “allow for the development of a personalized diagnosis, opening the door to treating the cause, rather than just the symptoms, of schizophrenia.”

In their research, Clonginger and his colleagues discovered that specific genetic profiles matched particular symptoms. Individuals with one genetic cluster may have odd or unintelligible speech, while people with another genetic profile may hear voices.

The scientists also found that some clusters had a higher risk of giving people the disease than others.

The study compared the DNA of 4,200 people diagnosed with schizophrenia to that of 3,800 healthy control participants. The participants were also grouped based on their symptoms and their severity.

This is still much we don’t understand about the exact cause of schizophrenia or these individual disorders, but being able to predict symptomology of schizophrenia patients alone would be a massive step forward in the management of the condition.

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