Andrew Hammerschlag et al. (2019)
Psychological Medicine

Common genes contribute to ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia. This may explain why mental illness can occur in one family, but not with the same disorder. New drugs may target the shared pathways.

We know there’s genetic overlap between multiple psychiatric disorders. However, we don’t yet know the biological underpinnings. To treat these genetically related disorders (ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, major depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia) we must first discover the biological mechanisms responsible for their relation to one another. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This study broke ground in that regard. The researchers examined 7,372 gene sets to identify sets of genes involved in the etiology of multiple psychiatric disorders. The total dataset contained 159,219 cases and 262,481 controls. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The researchers found 19 gene sets that were significantly associated with the five psych disorders. This study found novel evidence for shared biological mechanisms that act across psychiatric disorders, and they showed that several gene sets are related to individual disorders but play a role in a wider range of psych disorders as well. New pharmaceutical interventions may be able to target all five disorders effectively.