TORONTO, July 16, 2013 /CNW/ - Scientists from the Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health (CAMH) have discovered rare genetic changes that may
be responsible for the onset of schizophrenia. Several of these same
genetic lesions had previously been found to have causal links to
autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This discovery gives new support to the
notion that multiple rare genetic changes may contribute to
schizophrenia and other brain disorders.
This discovery also suggests that clinical DNA (genome-wide microarray)
testing may be useful in demystifying one of the most complex and
stigmatized human diseases. The study is published in the current issue
of Human Molecular Genetics, and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
In the first study of its kind, scientists at CAMH and The Centre for
Applied Genomics (TCAG) at The Hospital for Sick Children analyzed the
DNA of 459 Canadian adults with schizophrenia to detect rare genetic
changes of potential clinical significance.
"We found a significant number of large rare changes in the chromosome
structure that we then reported back to the patients and their
families," said Dr. Anne Bassett, Director of CAMH's Clinical Genetics
Research Program and Canada Research Chair in Schizophrenia Genetics
and Genomic Disorders at the University of Toronto. "In total, we
expect that up to eight per cent of schizophrenia may be caused in part
by such genetic changes - this translates to roughly one in every 13
people with the illness." These include several new discoveries for
schizophrenia, including lesions on chromosome 2.
The research team also developed a systematic approach to the discovery
and analysis of new, smaller rare genetic changes leading to
schizophrenia, which provides dozens of new leads for scientists
studying the illness. "We were able to identify smaller changes in
chromosome structure that may play an important role in schizophrenia -
and that these often involve more than one gene in a single person with
the illness," added Dr. Bassett, who is also a Clinician Scientist in
the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute.
"Moving forward, we will be able to study common pathways affected by
these different genetic changes and examine how they affect brain
development - the more we know about where the illness comes from, the
more possibilities there will be for the development of new
"CIHR is pleased to support researchers whose work aims at demystifying
the causes of schizophrenia," said Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific
Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and
Addiction. "We hope Canadians who live with schizophrenia will
eventually benefit from these important findings."
Several of the genes and pathways discovered in this study of
schizophrenia have also been identified to be important in causing ASD.
This includes the large rare changes in chromosome structure of
potential clinical significance. "We have seen the success clinical
microarray testing has had in making sense of ASD for families, and we
think the same could be true for schizophrenia," added Dr. Stephen
Scherer, Director of TCAG and the University of Toronto's McLaughlin
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical
care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to
help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and
addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with
the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health
Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For
more information, please visit www.camh.ca.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's
mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its
translation into improved health, more effective health services and
products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed
of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than
14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.
SOURCE: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
For further information:
Media Contact: Michael Torres, CAMH Media Relations (416) 595 6015 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Relations, CIHR, 613-941-4563 MediaRelations.Relationsaveclesmedias@cihr-irsc.gc.ca