24 June 2014

Genetic links found between schizophrenia and cannabis use

HYMS Year 4 student Mohamed Zuhair is co-author of a paper that has been published in Molecular Psychiatry that suggests the genetics of schizophrenia increase the chances of future cannabis use.

During the summer after his first year at HYMS, Mohamed wanted to put his previous degree in biochemistry to some use so carried out lab work at the Institute of Psychiatry. Whilst there he joined other researchers to use a large data set already in place to look at healthy patients who had an increased genetic predisposition to getting schizophrenia. They found a lot of them ended up using cannabis.

Up until now it has previously been suggested that cannabis may cause schizophrenia. The research carried out by Mohamed et al suggests there may be a link in the other direction i.e. the genetics of schizophrenia may predispose you to using cannabis and perhaps this could explain the association between the two.

The paper has been picked up by a number of media outlets. It has been mentioned in more than 75 news sources, including the Economist. See below: