Identical Twins May Not Be Identical After All

It's long been assumed that everything about identical twins is, well, identical. However, new genetic research from The University of...
It's long been assumed that everything about identical twins is, well, identical. However, new genetic research from The University of Western Ontario shows that identical twins (monozygotic twins) may have less in common than we thought. Recently, molecular geneticist Shiva Singh and psychiatrist Dr. Richard O'Reilly were working to figure out the genetic sequencing of schizophrenia using identical twins. Singh looked at about one million markers of identical twins in cases where just one of the twins had schizophrenia. Schizophrenia often runs in families, so the popular theory is that if your brother, sister, mother or father have schizophrenia, you're more likely to develop it as well. Based on the above ideas, because monozygotic twins are genetically identical, if one twin has schizophrenia, then the other twin should as well. But, actual studies show that the risk of schizophrenia presenting in both twins is only 50%. This means that either schizophrenia involves some sort of random effect OR that identical twins aren't as identical as we think. According to Singh:
"If schizophrenia is in the genes, then the difference in the genetic makeup of monozygotic twins, with only one disease twin, must have something to do with the disease... Cells are dividing as we develop and differentiate. More importantly, these cells may lose or acquire additional DNA. The genome is not static."
Hopefully this twin research surrounding schizophrenia will lead to better treatments and possibly easier detection. Learn more about twins: Photo © Flickr user surlygirl

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