A new study on the genetics behind schizophrenia and bipolar disorder made a breakthrough by exploiting the similarities of Ashkenazi genetics, according to an article in the Washington Jewish Week.
The study, which identified risk factors for the two diseases, found that a tiny genetic difference can increase their probability, the Washington Jewish Week reported.
“Ashkenazi homogeneity enhances our ability to detect these risk factors,” study team leader Dr. Todd Lencz, an associate investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, told the paper. Lencz also said that all Ashkenazi Jews today descend from a group of between 200 and 300 people who lived between 700 and 800 years ago.
The team looked at a particular gene and found that just one chemical change increases the risk of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the paper said.