Depression could be caused by a rogue gene

Depression could be caused by a 'rogue' gene

By Liz Lockhart

Scientist have discovered flaws in people’s DNA which may make them more likely to get depressed according to an article in The Daily Mail.

Depression is notoriously hard to treat and it is hoped that these findings may lead to improved treatments for the disorder.

Researchers from Kings College London have been working with a team from the United States have pinpointed a section of DNA which they believe is responsible for depression.

This particular section is known as chromosome 3p25-26 and it contains up to 40 genes and one or more probably causes the condition.

The scientists are hoping to carry out more detailed work over the next year and are trying to pinpoint exactly which gene is responsible.

Depression affects up to one in five of us in the United Kingdom at one time in our lives.  Depression can be triggered by stressful and traumatic life events such as grief, redundancy and divorce but scientists have known for a long time that certain people are susceptible where others are not.

MailOnline says that researchers studied the DNA of more than 800 British families with two or more siblings with depression.

At the same time another team of scientists from Washington University Medical School in St. Louis looked at 91 families in Australia and 25 families in Finland

The findings, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, show that the depressed siblings had the same genetic variations in the same section of their DNA.

This would suggest that depression runs in families, with people inheriting the genes from their parents.

Lead author Gerome Breen, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, said ‘In a large number of families where two or more members have depression we round robust evidence that a region called chromosome 3p25-26 is strongly linked to the disorder.’

‘There findings are truly exciting as possibly for the first time we have found a genetic locus for depression.’

‘Though these findings will not result in a test for depression they will help us track down specific genes that are altered in people with this disease.’

‘This breakthrough in understanding the risk for depression may get us closer to developing more effective therapies though patients should not expect to see these available for 10-15 years.’

‘Any one of 40 genes in chromosome 3p25-26 could be responsible so we are currently conducting detailed sequencing examinations in 40 of the families involved, to identify specific genes and variations that are causing the linkage.  Results of these studies should be available next year.’

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane said ‘It is very exciting that there seems to be progress finding the gene involved in some people developing depression.  However, we are still some distance from identifying the ‘culprit gene.’

It is very reassuring that this type of research is being conducted.  Depression is devastating both for the sufferer and for their loved ones.  For too long mental health has been hidden away and the cost, in quality of life and to the economy, is just too high.  Let’s hope that this research brings positive treatment for all those affected with depression.


Relevant Products

For our depression guide please see here:

No votes yet