News and Commentary Archive

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5 Disorders Share Genetic Risk Factors: Jordan Smoller in the NYT

Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, major depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, though seemingly unrelated, share several common genetic glitches, according to a study published by The Lancet this week, with CLBB faculty Jordan Smoller as lead author.

In the largest genetic study yet of psychiatric disorders, Smoller, in collaboration with the Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, analyzed genetic data from more than 60,000 people worldwide. Among their findings were that the five disorders shared abnormalities in two genes used in a major signaling system in the brain. What, if any, disorder those abnormalities might lead to is believed to depend on environmental or contributing genetic factors.

The findings could contribute to a new protocol for treating mental illness that would rely more heavily on genetic information and less on observed and reported symptoms.

The New York Times reported on the study, quoting Dr. Smoller: “What we identified here is probably just the tip of an iceberg,” said Dr. Jordan Smoller, lead author of the paper and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “As these studies grow we expect to find additional genes that might overlap.”

Read full article in the New York Times.

View interview with Dr. Smoller on CBS This Morning: