"This finding has a very good chance of leading to a discovery of a gene that could yield important information about why some people develop depression," said Levinson. If problematic genetic variations could be identified, it would open the door to a whole new world of investigation, and eventually, treatment possibilities. The team's results are reported in two papers that will be published in the February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Levinson's group, comprising researchers from six universities, achieved this breakthrough by studying 650 families in which at least two members suffered from repeated bouts of severe depression that began in childhood or early adult life. The first of the studies was a genome-wide scan that looked for evidence of genetic "linkage" within families between depression and DNA markers on the various chromosomes. The linkage study identified regions worthy of more intensive examination.
The second study was a more detailed look at the most suspicious of these regions, located on chromosome 15. Levinson said the team studied six DNA markers in this region in the first study, and an additional 88 in the second. "We found highly significant evidence for linkage to depression in this particular part of chromosome 15," he said. "This is one of the strongest genetic linkage findings for depression so far."
"It's an important paper," said Peter McGuffin, MD, dean of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London, who was not involved in the study. McGuffin wrote a commentary on the research that appears in the same issue. "This is one of the first big linkage studies on the genetics of depression."
Researchers learned that depression is influenced by genetics by studying patterns of depression in twins and families. No single gene is thought responsible for determining the risk for developing depression. Instead, multiple genes are probably interacting to create what amounts to a genetic baseline level of risk. On top of that baseline, environmental factors are likely mixed in as well, things such as non-genetic physiological problems or psychological traumas.
Some 10 to 15 percent of people suffer from severe depression at some point in their lives, and 3 to 5 percent have it more than once. Women are twice as likely to develop depression as men, although the reason is not yet known.
"We don't think depression is entirely genetic, by any means, but there are important genetic factors," said Levinson. "If we can succeed in finding one or more genes in which there are specific DNA sequence variations that affect one's risk of depression, then we would be able to understand what type of gene is it, what it does in the brain and by what mechanism it could make one more or less predisposed to depression."
Knowing more about which genes are the major factors causing a predisposition for depression would also help researchers sort out the environmental factors that contribute to depression, Levinson said. And knowing more about either genetic or environmental factors could help in developing more effective therapies to treat depression. "The treatments we have now are lifesavers for some people, but there are others who have only a partial response or no response at all," he said. "Understanding the biology would help the search for better treatments."
The next phase of the consortium's research is already under way. This phase is an even more detailed look at more than 2,000 individuals to identify specific genes where there are variations that increase the risk of severe depression, including closer study of the suspicious area of chromosome 15.
Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)
North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News
22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences