Genetic study discovers links between psychiatric illnesses

BY LEAH WILLIAMS
Posted on AUG 03, 2019

Worldwide genetic study provides evidence of how several common psychiatric.

An international group of researchers has fulfilled a genetic study, known as Brainstorm Study.

The scientific collaboration enabled researchers from the US, UK, China, Singapore, Japan, and Australia to extract genetic data from 265,000 patients diagnosed with one of 25 different brain disorders, and compared it to genetic data of 785,000 people with no such diagnosis.
The study, published Thursday in Science, is the largest of its kind, according to the authors.

"This work is starting to reshape how we think about disorders of the brain," senior author Brian Neale, director of population genetics in the Stanley Center at MIT's Broad Institute as well as a researcher at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a statement. "If we can uncover the genetic influences and patterns of overlap between different disorders, then we might be able to better understand the root causes of these conditionsand potentially identify specific mechanisms appropriate for tailored treatments."

Most of the disorders included were conditions thought to be psychiatric in nature, however, the researchers also included neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as migraines, epilepsy, and stroke.

The findings here suggest as other recent studies have, that there is no clear border between certain mental illnesses. In an example, many of the same genes that make your brain vulnerable to depression also make it susceptible to schizophrenia.

"The tradition of drawing these sharp lines when patients are diagnosed probably doesn't follow the reality, where mechanisms in the brain might cause overlapping symptoms," said Neale.

Additionally, the author notes the connection between a person's education level and certain brain disorders may share be related to a common genetic origin, but it might also reflect that early, potentially changeable life factors can have long-lasting effects on mental and neurological health