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Doctors discover hundreds of genes linked to depression
Approximately one in six people will experience depression during their lifetime, and new genetic studies suggest that DNA screening would help identify the most vulnerable long before the first symptoms appear.
In their current research, Edinburgh University scientists found that hundreds of newly identified genes are linked to the development of depression. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Nature Neuroscience".
Certain genes are associated with depression and smoking
Hundreds of newly identified genes appear to be associated with depression. The experts also found that people who have these genes are more likely to start smoking throughout their lives, and there was also a significant genetic correlation between depression and schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and neurotic personality traits.
DNA samples from more than two million people were analyzed
The results are based on DNA samples from more than two million people. The researchers used a complex and comparatively new statistical technique known as Mendelian randomization to identify 269 genes that have not previously been linked to depression. People are born with their genes, so if a link is found between a gene and a disorder like depression, doctors know that the genes are somehow involved in the cause of this depression, says study author Professor Andrew McIntosh from Edinburgh University.
Depression is not always due to our genes
Scientists do not claim that genetic factors cause depression in all people, most depression is likely caused by environmental factors, but the evidence suggests that depression leads to smoking. It is unclear why genes associated with depression have survived in the population, but it is suspected that they mutate too often to be eradicated by so-called natural selection, or that there are traits associated with them, such as excessive fear of potential dangers , Give people a survival advantage.
New treatments and medication?
Research into the genes could lead to the development of screening tools and more individual treatments in the future, explains the study author. If you could identify the people most affected by depression, you could help them change their lifestyle and possibly get them treated earlier. The genetic insights could also be used to identify new drug treatments for depression or to tailor drug treatments to the people who are most likely to respond to them, the doctors explain.
Further research is already being planned
The researchers are now recruiting 40,000 people from across the UK for the next phase of their study who have previously had depression or anxiety. Participants are asked to submit saliva samples for genetic analysis and to complete a questionnaire about their health and lifestyle. (as)