Scientists think they have found the speculative link between genes and depression. According to the journal Nature, Pfizer pharmaceuticals conducted a study that combed through genomes of 450,000 people to identify 17 genes associated with increased risk of developing depression. The results arm researchers with a better understanding, which will assist them in treating the condition more effectively.
The examination found 17 genetic variations in total throughout 15 regions of the genome. These particular genomes are linked to severe clinical depression of individuals with a European ethnic heritage.
To pinpoint the variations, scientists resourced 23andMe, a consumer genetic testing company that houses a data bank. They found, of the 300,000 test subjects, that 75,607 of them reported a clinical diagnosis of depression or were undergoing treatment. Researchers then compared the DNA of these individuals to a variable of healthy adults using a computer-based search. Genetic differences appearing more prevalently in those with the condition can signal the particular active genes.
Roy Perlis, who led the study, advised that these rogue genes are not enough to confirm a direct link but instead direct scientists towards more revealing research. Perlis also insists the study’s evidence defines depression as a de facto brain disease apart from low-spirits.
Doubts surface, nonetheless, in using information from a consumer-based institution such as 23andMe. Jonathan Flint, for instance, from the University of California in Los Angeles, informed The Guardian self-reported figures are often skewed because individuals are not necessarily honest and precise; not to mention, many patients with severe depression never receive a proper diagnosis.
The data, in addition, will shed more light on the stigma of depression than be sourced for certain drug therapies. But understanding that depression is a confirmed physical condition may usher those towards treatment.
The study’s outcome also pushes the need for larger datasets to research. The U.S. government recently initialized a program for a medicine-oriented database of millions of people to advance personalized health plans and treatments, The Technology Review reports.
Source: Medical Daily