Study finds numerous genes contribute to bipolar disorder

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 28, 2007

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Several dozen genes combine to produce bipolar disorder, although each has only a modest effect on its own, according to a study published online May 8 in Molecular Psychiatry.

Researchers genotyped more than 550,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms gathered from the pooled genetic material of several hundred people of European descent with and without this disorder. Eighty-eight single nucleotide polymorphisms of 80 different genes were associated with an increased risk of this mental illness, and those working on this project hope to use this information to develop new drugs for it.

"Treatments that target just a few of these genes or the proteins they make could yield substantial benefits for patients," said Francis J. McMahon, MD, one of the authors and an investigator with the National Institute of Mental Health.

This study also marks the first use of new technology that allows for the combining of large amounts of genetic material, and the scanning for nearly all variations of human genes.

This method is cheaper than genotyping each individual, and allows for the determination of genetic variations associated with a particular condition.

Future studies will examine whether these results apply to non-European populations.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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