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More clues in the genetics of schizophrenia

Chinese researchers add three chromosomal regions to a slow-growing list of genetic links.

Two of the largest studies yet carried out on the genetics of schizophrenia in Chinese populations have turned up three genetic loci, or chromosomal regions, previously not known to be related to the disease.

These genome-wide association studies (GWAS), done independently and published in Nature Genetics on 30 October1,2, also begin to redress a geographical imbalance: until now, GWAS have focused mainly on Western populations.

Roughly 1 in 100 people will suffer from schizophrenia in their lifetimes, which is considered largely heritable (up to 80%). But this genetic influence seems to be produced by hundreds of variations in DNA, each of which increases risk by a small amount. Researchers have so far found some 20 such variants, but have been unable to pin down the exact genes that are affected by those variations or molecular mechanisms that cause the disease.
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