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Genes and depression, researchers find new region of interest

23 May 2011
Appeared in BioNews 608

Scientists believe they have identified a new genetic link to severe depression.

The research conducted as part of the Depression Network Study looked at over 800 families with recurrent depression. The researchers conducted a genome-wide analysis and found a significant link between severe depression and a region of DNA on chromosome three.

The region identified, 3p25-26, contains more than 40 genes, several of which are thought to be involved in brain function and could therefore be involved in depression. 

Lead author of the study, Dr Gerome Breen from King's College, London said: ‘These findings are truly exciting as possibly for the first time we have found a genetic locus for depression’.

The findings of the study were published in  the American Journal of Psychiatry. Other research, published in the same issue, from an independent US study also linked the same DNA region to heavy smokers with depression. According to Dr Breen, ‘This appears to be one of the strongest replicated genetic findings in studies for depression’.

The next step will be to identify which, if any, of these individual genes is linked to depression and ultimately whether they could help to explain how it is caused.

‘We are just beginning to make our way through the maze of influences on depression and this is an important step toward understanding what may be happening at the genetic and molecular levels', said Dr Michele Pergadia, who worked on the US study.


A Genome-Wide Significant Linkage for Severe Depression on Chromosome 3: The Depression Network Study
American Journal of Psychiatry |  15 May 2011
Found: The rogue gene that could make you prone to depression
Daily Mail |  16 May 2011
Gene could cause depression, say scientists
Daily Mirror |  16 May 2011
Hope for depression sufferers as study links illness to genes
Independent |  16 May 2011
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