Depression Upclose: Scientists Pinpoints New Clues Tied To Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) In Human Genome

By Lani Lane, Parent Herald August 04, 05:10 am

Findings from a recent study, conducted by scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital, 23andMe and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, presented by the Nature Genetics, identified 15 genomic regions in the human genome linked with the buildup of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Depression, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless or disinterested in life in general. It is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses worldwide with around 350 million persons affected and can be killed by it.

For years, researchers have been searching for genomic hallmarks of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). While few have generated few promising clues, not one was able to find any reliable, precise genetic genomic marks of the illness. 

Now, a huge step might have been done in locating the root cause of depression, with a recent study exposing 15 genomic regions in the human genome tied to the accumulation of MDD. The research was a huge one - involving over 450,000 subjects  and made possible by the special participation of 23andMe. Many thanks to the massive collection of generic records it has stored and sequenced from its various customers. Customers can go for a yes or no of letting their records to be utilized for research.

"Identifying genes that affect risk for a disease is a first step towards understanding the disease biology itself, which gives us targets to aim for in developing new treatments," declares Dr. Roy Perlis, co-author of the study and a faculty psychiatrist in Massachusetts General Hospital.

Ashley Winslow, a Pfizer scientist at the period of study was completed, said that: "We've been dominated by decades of dogma about how we treat depression. The hope is this can lead to a novel understanding of the disease." And that later on could give rise to new ways to finally beat it.

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