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Psychiatric disorders linked

SCHIZOPHRENIA and bipolar disorder share common genetic causes, according to research published yesterday that suggests the two conditions may simply be different manifestations of the same disease.

Some drugs, such as AstraZeneca's Seroquel and Eli Lilly's Zyprexa, are already used to treat both and the question of whether they represent a disease continuum is widely debated in psychiatry.

Now Swedish researchers have shown there are strong and inter-related inherited links between both conditions.

An analysis of 9 million Swedish people over a 30-year period found close relatives of people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder had an increased risk of both disorders, while evidence from half-siblings suggested the effect was mainly due to genetic factors.

"We showed evidence that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder partly share a common genetic cause," Paul Lichtenstein and colleagues at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute reported in the Lancet medical journal.


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