Schizophrenia in most cases is inherited. The study looked at 171 Irish people whose families were directly effected by the disorder. This allowed researchers to directly identify the genes that had mutated promoting the onset of the condition.
The mutated genes were directly involved with epigenetic regulation, or the development of heritable genetics that are not caused by the DNA sequence of the specific gene.
The same mechanism is thought to be involved in some cases of autism, and by comparing their findings with a database of genetic information about other neurodevelopmental disorders, the authors were able to show the same genes that may play a role in schizophrenia could also play a role in causing autism and intellectual disability.
Trinity Professor in Psychiatry, Aiden Corvin, senior author of the study, said that the findings may prove that autism and schizophrenia are more similar than previously thought. He told the Irish journal:
“This is a really exciting finding as it suggests that neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, which hitherto have been seen as different diseases may involve common underlying disease mechanisms. This may have implications in the future for how we conceptualize and treat these conditions.”