Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_88953

Gene involved in manic depression found

16 June 2003
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 212

A team of US researchers has identified a genetic change that could trigger bipolar disorder, a type of mental illness commonly known as manic depression. Alterations in the GRK3 gene could be involved in up to 10 per cent of cases, claim the scientists, who are based at the University of California, San Diego. Their findings, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, show that the changes occur in the gene's 'on-off' switch. 'One of the major limitations in bipolar treatment is the lack of new molecular targets for drugs' said lead author John Kelsoe. 'Our hope is that the discovery of genetic defects that cause bipolar disorder will lead to drugs that can be directed to those specific genes'.

Manic depression is characterised by alternating bouts of depression and mania, during which the patient becomes agitated and euphoric. The symptoms are thought to be caused by an imbalance in the levels of brain chemicals involved in mood, including dopamine. GRK3 controls the brain's sensitivity to dopamine, and it could be that alterations in the control region of the gene affect a person's response to the chemical. 'We believe that a defect in GRK3 may make one super-sensitive to dopamin, somewhat like being born on cocaine' said Kelsoe.

The researchers found an association between the altered gene and the disorder in one group of 153 families, and a second group of 275. They also found that rats with a mania-type condition showed unusual patterns of GRK3 gene activity. But Kelsoe stresses that more research is needed to confirm the association, and also says that there are probably 'dozens' more genes involved in the illness. Amanda Harris, of the UK Manic Depression Fellowship, said that better treatments for the condition were badly needed. 'Manic depression probably has several underpinning reasons, and at the moment treatment is very hit and miss' she said.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Gene for manic depression
BBC News Online |  15 June 2003
Scientists close in on cause of troubled genius
The Times |  16 June 2003
Scientists say they ID depression gene
Yahoo Daily News |  15 June 2003
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
7 November 2011 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
Two Chinese genome wide association studies (GWAS) have identified genomic regions linked to the incidence of schizophrenia. The papers, published in Nature, are some of the first GWAS to look at Chinese as opposed to Western populations....
14 May 2007 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A new study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, has identified new genes involved in bipolar disorder. The work may one day lead to better treatments for the disease.None of the genes discovered by researchers from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), in collaboration with...
13 January 2006 - by BioNews 
Australian scientists have identified a gene that could be involved in up to ten per cent of cases of bipolar disorder - a type of mental illness formerly known as manic depression. The research, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, pinpoints a gene called FAT-1, which makes a crucial brain...
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.