A new gene directly linked to schizophrenia has been identified by Indian and Australian scientists in a collaborative effort after 18 years of research. The genomes of over 3,000 people were searched, and it was established by a team of Indian researchers and scientists at the Queensland University in Australia that people suffering from schizophrenia were more likely to carry a particular genetic variation.
Previously conducted studies had predominantly been done on people with European ancestry, which led to the identification of more than 100 schizophrenia-associated variants, mentioned Bryan Mowry from the University of Queensland.
Dr. Mowry said, “Looking at other populations can highlight different parts of the genome with a more robust association with the disease,”
He further added, “This study identified a gene called NAPRT1 that encodes an enzyme involved in vitamin B3 metabolism — we were also able to find this gene in a large genomic dataset of schizophrenia patients with European ancestry,”
The NAPRT1 gene was knocked out in zebrafish, and the development of its brain was impaired. “We are now working to understand more deeply how this gene functions in the brain,” Dr. Mowry said.
Scientists are trying to establish a relation between susceptibility to schizophrenia and genetic variations and devise future possible treatments.
R. Thara, who she is the co-founder and director of the Chennai-based Schizophrenia Research Foundation, led the Indian research team.