Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_135584

Genes for depression risk mapped in global study

30 April 2018
Appeared in BioNews 947

The largest ever study into the genetics of depression has identified 44 gene variants that are linked to the disease. 

The unprecedented global collaboration used genetic information from over 135,000 people with depression and 344,000 controls. The team confirmed 14 gene variants that were previously identified, but also discovered 30 new variants, prompting hopes that further research may identify new drugs to treat depression. The study was published in Nature Genetics.

'The new genetic variants discovered have the potential to revitalise depression treatment by opening up avenues for the discovery of new and improved therapies,' says Dr Gerome Breen from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London. 'With this study, depression genetics has advanced to the forefront of genetic discovery.'

Although it has long been known that there is an important genetic component to depression, researchers have struggled to identify gene variants associated with the condition. One of the reasons for this, according to the new study, is that many gene variants contribute together to determine an individual's risk of developing depression.

'There is certainly no single gene for depression,' Professor Cathryn Lewis, also a researcher at the institute, told The Guardian. 'We know that thousands of genes are involved in depression with each having a very modest effect on a person's risk.'

The study team pooled together data from the UK, the USA, Iceland and Denmark to come up with the numbers to identify even those modest effects. It pooled data on genetics and depression from big databases such as UK Biobank and 23andMe. Some of the gene variants they have identified have been previously linked to other mental disorders such as schizophrenia, or have been linked to known risk factors for depression such as a high body mass index (BMI).

Some of the gene variants identified are linked to neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which are targeted by current drug therapies. The newly identified gene variants could lead to a better understanding of the biological mechanisms behind depression, and, with further research, new drug therapies.

'What we've had in recent decades is a shortage of new mechanisms that underlie depression and psychiatric disorders,' said Dr Breen. 'The hope is that in new data we identify new processes that can be targeted by newly developed types of drugs, which have different mechanisms of action to existing medications.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
'Gene map for depression' sparks hopes of new generation of treatments
The Guardian |  26 April 2018
Genome-wide association analyses identify 44 risk variants and refine the genetic architecture of major depression
Nature Genetics |  26 April 2018
Major study identifies 44 genetic risk factors for depression
King's College London |  26 April 2018
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
14 October 2019 - by Jennifer Frosch 
Developing post-traumatic stress disorder following traumatic events has a strong genetic component, a new study shows...
26 November 2018 - by Hannah Tippett Simpson 
Four gene variants have been found to be more common in suicide victims...
19 November 2018 - by Eleanor Lynam 
The largest study of its kind has given evidence to suggest that being overweight can cause depression, primarily due to psychological factors...
30 July 2018 - by Alexander Ware 
The pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline is investing US$300 million in 23andMe as part of a four-year collaboration that will give it access to the DNA testing firm's genetic data resources...
25 June 2018 - by Grace O'Regan 
A common genetic basis has been found for schizophrenia, major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder, a new study has found this week...
12 February 2018 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
Several psychiatric disorders – autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression – share patterns of gene activity, an international team of scientists has found...
10 April 2017 - by Sarah Gregory 
Researchers have identified a gene variant that increases the risk of depression, while elsewhere the largest genetic study testing for risk factors gets underway...
8 August 2016 - by Helen Robertson 
Scientists have identified 17 genetic variants that appear to be linked to depression in individuals with European ancestry...
20 July 2015 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
Two gene variants have been linked to major depressive disorder by an international research consortium...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.