If you thought schizophrenia was a single disorder, new research suggests that you may need to rethink this point of view.
According to researchers schizophrenia may be a group of eight distinct disorders, each caused by changes in clusters of genes that lead to different sets of symptoms. The finding may lead to the development of better ways to diagnose and treat schizophrenia, C. Robert Cloninger, a co-author of the study, told USA Today (http://usat.ly/1y5FMbH).
In the study, which was published in September (Arnedo J et al, Am J Psychiatry 2014, Epub ahead of print), researchers compared the DNA of 4,200 people with schizophrenia to that of 3,800 people without the disorder. They found schizophrenia is a group of heritable disorders caused by a moderate number of separate genotypic networks associated with several distinct clinical syndromes. Certain genetic profiles matched particular symptoms. For example, people with one genetic cluster have disorganized speech while those with another genetic profile hear voices. Some genetic clusters give people higher risks of the disorder as well, with one set conferring a 95% chance of developing schizophrenia, the study found.
Cloninger, professor of psychiatry and genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, told the newspaper he hopes the work will open the door to treating the cause, rather than just the symptoms, of schizophrenia.