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The risk of schizophrenia conferred by rare harmful genetic variants is consistent across racial and ethnic groups

Two previously undiscovered genes connected to schizophrenia have been discovered by researchers, and a third gene has recently been implicated as carrying risk for both schizophrenia and autism. The multi-center study, which was directed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, further showed that the risk of schizophrenia conferred by these uncommonly harmful variants is constant across ethnic groups. The study might also suggest novel treatments.

One of the most severe mental illnesses is schizophrenia. It affects how they think, feel, and act in about 1 out of every 100 people. Schizophrenia patients and their families may find it upsetting when they appear to have lost touch with reality.The researchers discovered the two risk genes, SRRM2 and AKAP11, in the study—the first known effort of its kind to investigate schizophrenia risk across diverse populations, particularly those of African ancestry.

They did this by comparing the gene sequences of people with schizophrenia to those of healthy controls. Existing datasets with up to 35,828 cases and 107,877 controls were used in the meta-analysis.

The research expands on a recent study that found 10 genes associated with schizophrenia risk. The earlier study, in contrast to the current investigation, involved participants who were primarily of white European ancestry.