Image may contain: Castle, Palace, Villa, College, Architecture, Building, House, Mansion, Housing

Cardiff University researchers make schizophrenia breakthrough

It offers new insights into the biological causes of schizophrenia

A Cardiff University team have discovered a new genetic link with schizophrenia after analysing genetic data from 3400 families affected by the mental illness.

The study looked specifically at high-risk genes, and found one in particular, SLC6A1, which had significantly more new mutations than expected.

Dr Rees, of the Medical Research Council Centre (MRC) for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, has been working on this study for three years.

He hoped it may help "identify the key genes involved" and provide "molecular targets for the development of novel drugs."

Image may contain: Finger, Man, Hand, Accessories, Glasses, Accessory, Human, Person

Dr Elliott Rees

The mutations were found in 3000 people with the condition. Dr Elliott Rees said it "potentially brings us a step closer" to new drugs.

The findings, which are published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, offer further insight into the causes of schizophrenia, a serious mental health condition that can cause hallucinations and delusions.

The researches have said the results point towards alterations in how brain cells communicate as a potential cause of schizophrenia.

Prof Sir Michael, former director of the MRC Centre and one of the study's authors, said the findings also suggested new gene mutations could predispose people to have other disorders, such as autism and developmental delay.

Prof Sir Michael also said: "As well as understanding how the mutations impact on brain function, it will be important to understand what factors modify their effects as these may also be possible targets for new treatments."

The aim is to develop new therapies for the condition, which affects around 1% of the global population, and 600,000 people in the UK.

Dr Rees said: "This work increases our understanding of the biological causes of the condition, which we hope will lead to the development of new, more effective treatments."