A pioneering study into the cause of mental illness schizophrenia has revealed a key gene that, when damaged, can double the risk of developing the illness.
The findings have added more evidence to suggest a genetic basis for schizophrenia, an illness that affects around one in every 100 people at some point in their lives. The long-term illness causes delusions and hallucinations in sufferers and is thought to cost the NHS £2 billion a year in care and treatment.
The discovered gene, called TOP3B, has also been linked to learning difficulties and autism when damaged. The gene itself normally works to unwind the DNA double helix to allow other genes to function. This is especially important when nerve cells of the brain are developing in the womb and in the first few years of life.
If someone is missing versions of the gene, they are at a substantially higher...