The team of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center analysed the genetic code of 225 individuals, some of whom were affected by the condition and some of whom were not.
The results of the analysis showed mutations in 40 different genes which were linked to schizophrenia, even in cases which had not been inherited.
An individuals DNA is not a perfect copy of their parents and when the eggs and sperm are formed this is when the mutations tend to occur.
Head researcher Dr Maria Karayiorgou said that the fact the mutations were all from different genes is very interesting and suggests that many more mutations than initially suspected may contribute to schizophrenia.
”This is probably because of the complexity of the neural circuits that are affected by the disease; many genes are needed for their development and function.” She said.
Professor Bin Xi, a fellow researcher on the project said that the identification of these damaging mutations has transformed their understanding of the genetic basis of schizophrenia, and could provide an explanation as to the high global incidence of the mental illness despite variable environmental factors.
Mental health charity Rethink commented that scientific research looking into schizophrenia lagged behind that of research for other conditions. The charity’s chief executive Paul Jenkins said: “We welcome any research which helps develop a better insight of the causes of schizophrenia and ultimately brings us closer to finding new ways of preventing or treating the condition in the future.”
View the original BBC News article.