The biological basis for addiction and mental illness

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A large international study has confirmed a biological basis for some mental illnesses and addiction disorders, by identifying specific genes linked to the diseases, according to the BBC.

"This study puts psychiatry into the same category as other parts of medicine,” said David Curtis, a professor at University College London and one of the authors of the study. "In the past we have struggled with the view that psychiatric conditions are not 'real' illnesses but early genetic studies had limited successes. Now we show with confidence that there are biological processes going awry."

The largest part of the study looked at 110,000 individuals across the globe, comparing healthy individuals to those with schizophrenia. A smaller study of 6,000 participants showed that similar genetic markers were at play for people who suffered from bipolar disorder or alcoholism.

Eventually, researchers hope there may be more biological approach to treating these disorders.

"Finding a whole new bunch of genetic associations opens a window for well-informed experiments to unlock the biology of this condition and we hope ultimately new treatments,” said Michael O'Donovan, a professor at Cardiff University who led the research.



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