Major mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder appear to have more in common than previously thought, new research finds.
Scientists discovered that these disorders share similarities at a molecular level: They all show an activation of genes in star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes, and suppression of genes which function at synapses, the junction between neurons.
The new findings, published on Science magazine Friday, could lead to better diagnoses and treatments of these psychiatric disorders.
"With these new genomic molecular measurements, we're actually able to understand what is shared and what is distinct" about these disorders, Daniel Geschwind, lead investigators of the research, told Scientific American magazine.
"It gives us hope that perhaps we can use these signatures or hallmarks of the disorder to screen for drugs which can reverse them," he said.
Autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are common psychiatric disorders that share some features in common, such as language problems, irritability and aggression.