Schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism share common underpinnings genetically, despite the difference in symptoms and the course of each disease, discovered researchers.
The study indicates that the single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs in two calcium channel activity genes appear to have a role in all five of the disorders, said researchers from Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.
The new findings come from the genome wide analysis of over 27,887 controls and 33,330 cases in what authors described as the biggest to date genetic study of psychiatric illnesses.
This results give new evidence that might prompt a move beyond the descriptive syndromes in psychiatry to classification based upon underlying causes, said the lead author of the study.
The findings have confirmed evidence previously found that the same genetic variant has a role in a number of diseases, said one of the researchers. The researchers noted that calcium signaling, which is a key regulator of development and growth of the neurons, was thought to be very pleiotropic and that has now been able to be confirmed.
However, while gene variants have a role in a number of disorders, it is almost certain that others contribute to the diversity amongst the disorders, said researchers.
Nevertheless, they concluded that one implication of their study is genetics help to contribute to prevention and prediction of psychiatric diseases as well as with the identifying of molecular targets to help with a new generation of drugs.
Doctors said this would not take place soon, as the study was just a beginning step for ideas that will one day lead to new ways to treat the diseases.