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Geneticists Find Ashkenazi Jews Are 40% More Susceptible to Dangerous Mental Disorders Due to Inbreeding

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Researchers Find New Risk Factor For 2 Psychiatric Disorders in Ashkenazi Genes

Israeli, American researchers publish work on new genetic risk factor for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder.

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich | 26 November 2013

THE JERUSALEM POST — Israeli and American researchers investigating a healthy Ashkenazi Jewish population have identified a new genetic risk factor for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic-depression).

Their work, just published in Nature Communications, was reported by scientists at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The researchers identified the defect in the gene, named NDST3, by studying more than 25,000 individuals.

Conducting the study was a team led by Dr. Todd Lencz at the Zucker Hillside Hospital’s department of psychiatry research and the Feinstein Institute, and HU’s Dr. Ariel Darvasi, who has studied Ashkenazi populations for disorders for many years.

Lencz has been working with a set of DNA samples from patients with schizophrenia and healthy volunteers from the Ashkenazi population, which has inbred for many centuries.

Ashkenazim represent a unique population for study because of their relatively short (less than 1,000-year) history and limited population. This history results in a more uniform genetic background in which to identify diseaserelated variants. […]

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