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Scientists identified nearly 80 genes linked to depression

Posted April 18, 2018

Depression is a devastating condition. It takes away your will to live and to do stuff for your own good. It completely demolishes your self-worth and makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Depression can affect anyone, but some people are at higher risk. Now a team of scientists led by the University of Edinburgh identified nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression. But what does that mean?

Depression can affect anyone, but some people are at higher risk than others. Image credit: via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Put simply, this means that some people are born with a higher risk of developing depression later in life. That could explain why some people are at higher risk of depression than others, regardless of their lifestyle choices and socioeconomic status. Finding all the missing puzzle pieces of depression could also lead to new, more effective drugs that could tackle mental ill-health. This is a huge issue around the world. In UK alone one in five people are affected by depression, which is recognized as the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Various psychological traumas can trigger the onset of this disease. For example, deaths of family members or friends can push some people to depression. However, scientists have noticed long time ago that some people are more likely to develop this disease than other. Scientists analysed the genetic code of 300,000 people, whose information was taken from UK Biobank, which contains health and genetic information for half a million people. This allowed scientists to pinpoint nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression. Some of them are known to be involved in the function of synapses, which allow brain cells to communicate with each other.

Scientists confirmed their findings by analysing anonymised data held by the personal genetics and research company 23andMe. Dr David Howard, lead author of the study, said: “This study identifies genes that potentially increase our risk of depression, adding to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder. The findings also provide new clues to the causes of depression and we hope it will narrow down the search for therapies that could help people living with the condition”. Identifying potentially related genes is just the first step, but the research now can progress faster than ever.

Giant databases are extremely helpful for a research like this, because they do the information gathering for scientists. While analysis still takes a major portion of the time, collecting information is easier. Hopefully, this will allow scientists to further confirm the role of these genes in the onset of depression and it will lead to new, more effective therapies.


Source: University of Edinburgh

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