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Your vote: Alanna
Finnish and British scientists could soon start using genetic sequencing to diagnose depression, thanks to a new approach based on the discovery of two genes.
The genetic insights they are aiming for could allow clinicians to target more efficiently what is described as a subset of mood disorders.
And it could pave the way for a “personalised” approach to diagnosis – and also help scientists understand why some people are more vulnerable than others.
“The ability to select and sequence certain traits is quite unique,” said Dr Katarina Mäkönen, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neurogenomics and Neuropsychiatry at King’s College London.
“This kind of genetic research is often used as a test for genetic risk but sometimes it has unintended consequences for the development of medicines for patients.”
Genes to go for
Mäkönen helped find two genes, called serotonin transporter-5 (SERT-5) and 5-HTTLPR, that scientists had previously thought were involved in anxiety disorders, and depression. But these findings suggest the gene can also impact other mood disorders too, such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.
Mäkönen told SciDev.Net she began researching these genes after taking a course in neurogenetics.
The Wellcome Trust is part of the charitable and not-for-profit research centre that sponsors research funding on a wide range of topics including depression and brain ageing. The project is currently funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust and the European Regional Development Fund.