Genetic Links Seen Between Bipolar Illness and
THURSDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- There is a genetic link
between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, two common and often
disabling brain disorders, a new study indicates.
Researchers identified 11 genetic regions, including six that
had never been discovered before, which play a role in people's
risk for these mental illnesses. The findings, they say, provide
new insight into the causes of both conditions.
"Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are debilitating illnesses affecting millions of people around the world, and existing therapies for these people are ineffective as long-term options," the bipolar study's lead author Dr. Pamela Sklar, chief of the division of psychiatric genomics in the department of psychiatry and a professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said in a news release. "We have been hard at work trying to determine genetic risk for these diseases so that we can intervene earlier and develop new therapies with which to treat them. Through this research, we are an important step closer to making that possible."
Researchers examined the DNA of 7,481 people with bipolar
disorder as well as 9,250 healthy people. In a separate study,
another team of scientists evaluated the same DNA sites in more
than 17,000 people with schizophrenia.
In these two studies, the researchers found several DNA sites
also known as DNA variants in certain genes were linked with
schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In some cases, certain variants
were associated with both disorders. They argued the findings could
help scientists identify new treatments for these mental illnesses
enabling them to treat them earlier on and more effectively.
"Until recently, psychiatric research has understood the genetic basis of mental illness only very poorly," Dr. Shaun Purcell, an associate professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and co-author on the schizophrenia study, said in a news release. "Our research has helped us begin to elucidate the genetic structure of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and will, we hope, provide a new foundation to build upon in improving treatments and the quality of life of these patients."
The research was published in the Sept. 18 issue of
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health provides more
genetics and mental illness.
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