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Motor neurone disease and schizophrenia are linked, says new study

By Eilish O'Regan

Motor neurone disease and schizophrenia have a shared genetic origin and a biological link, according to new Irish research.

The team from Trinity College analysed the profiles of 13,000 people with motor neurone disease and 30,000 people with schizophrenia.

It confirmed that many of the genes that are associated with these two very different conditions are the same, in the journal 'Nature Communications'.

"While overlaps between schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric conditions including bipolar affective disorder and autism have been shown in the past, this is the first time that an overlap in genetic susceptibility between these two conditions has been shown," said lead author Dr Russell McLaughlin, Ussher Assistant Professor in Genome Analysis at Trinity College Dublin.

"This study demonstrates the power of genetics in understanding the causes of diseases.

"While neurological and psychiatric conditions may have very different characteristics and clinical presentations, our work has shown that the biological pathways that lead to these diverse conditions have much in common."

Neurologist Dr Orla Hardiman said the research showed the divide between psychiatry and neurology is a false one.

"We need to recognise that brain disease has many different manifestations, and the best way to develop new treatments is to understand the biology of what is happening.

"This will have major implications for how we classify diseases," she said.

Irish Independent

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