The study published online today in Nature Genetics for the first time identified three molecules on a regulatory pathway (mRNAs) that control neuronal development in the brain and found genetic markers shared between bipolar and schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is believed to develop in one in a hundred people from late teens and early twenties onwards.
The study was coordinated by Professor Pablo Gejman, of the University of Chicago, and included two stages of analysis with information from more than 50,000 people of European ancestry.
This large international effort resulted in the discovery of five genetic factors not yet been linked to contributing to the risk of schizophrenia.
The study included data from 800 WA families in an ongoing WA Family Study of Schizophrenia.
UWA co-contributors Winthrop Professor Assen Jablensky and Professor Luba Kalaydjieva said the study may help in the understanding of the genetics risks of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and become a starting point to develop of new target-oriented treatments. Current drugs treat mainly symptoms and are accompanied by severe side effects.