Trinity College Dublin scientists and 3,500 Irish participants have just made a significant contribution to a breakthrough in schizophrenia research.

An international scientific collaboration called the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, of which the Trinity scientists are a large part, has found 108 locations in the human genome associated with the debilitating disorder.

Aiden Corvin, a psychiatry professor at TCD’s School of Medicine and one of the leaders of the study, told the Irish Times: “Now that we have more pieces of the puzzle, we are starting to group genes into identifiable pathways so that we can explore schizophrenia at a biological level.”

Dr. Gerome Breen of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London also reported that the new discovery would revolutionize already functioning studies and speed up the development of new treatments for schizophrenia.

A serious disorder with a range of symptoms, schizophrenia affects one in every 100 Irish people. This human genome breakthrough is revolutionary, as the existing medicines are limited in their success, are quite outdated, and come with permanent adverse side effects.

“This is perhaps the most important study in psychiatric genetics to date,” Dr. Breen said.

The scientific collaboration spent many years analyzing upwards of 80,000 genetic samples from many schizophrenic, as well as healthy, volunteers, a substantial portion of whom are Irish. You can view the exact results and graphs in science journal Nature’s article, published yesterday.

Schizophrenia is often characterized by hallucinations, delusions and abnormal social behavior and emerges mainly in young adults. Its development can be attributed to social and psychological environment and processes, but genetics are a huge leading factor. It is a highly heritable disorder.

Genome-wide association studies like these serve to detect allele locations in the human genome that pose a high risk for schizophrenia. In this particular study, 83 out of 108 the allele locations found were new discoveries – a massive breakthrough.