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Sunday 25th August 2019

Genetic links for mental health disorders

1st March 2013
A study, funded by the US National Institutes of Health and other government agencies, has examined the genetic sequences of more than 50,000 people to get an insight into the possible genetic factors linked to five common mental health disorders.
The researchers studied the DNA of over 30,000 people with autism, ADHD, clinical depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and compared with the genetic sequences of more than 27,000 people without these conditions. Their findings showed that the DNA of those who had been diagnosed with one of these mental or behavioural conditions had variations in four genetic regions. Some of these genetic variations affect how calcium moves through the brain - a process which plays an important part in nerve cell signalling and signalling within cells.
The researchers concluded that these five common psychiatric conditions, traditionally considered to be clinically distinct, may in fact share genetic risk factors.
These findings have given rise to speculation about the possibility of new treatments being developed for these conditions.
The researchers, however, made it clear it is simplistic to regard mental health conditions or behavioural problems as being purely genetic. And there is a wide range of evidence to show environmental factors are also involved.

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