Researchers identify 64 regions of the genome that increase
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In the largest genetic study of bipolar disorder to date, researchers have identified 64 regions of the genome containing DNA variations that increase the risk of bipolar disorder—more than double the number previously identified. The research team also found overlap in the genetic bases of bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders.

To help elucidate the underlying biology of bipolar disorder, an international team of scientists conducted a genome-wide association study. This means they scanned the DNA of lots of people, looking for genetic markers that were more common in those who had bipolar disorder. This involved scanning more than 7.5 million common variations in the DNA sequence of nearly 415,000 people, more than 40,000 of whom had bipolar disorder. The study identified 64 regions of the genome that contain DNA variations that increase the risk of bipolar disorder.

The findings suggest that drugs, such as CCBs could be investigated as potential treatments for bipolar disorder, yet it's important to note that future research to directly assess whether these medications are effective is essential.

The study also found overlap in the genetic basis of bipolar disorder and that of other psychiatric disorders and confirmed the existence of partially genetically distinct subtypes of the disorder. Specifically, they found that bipolar I disorder shows a strong genetic similarity with schizophrenia and bipolar II disorder is more genetically similar to major depression.

"Through this work, we prioritized some specific genes and DNA variations which can now be followed up in laboratory experiments to better understand the biological mechanisms through which they act to increase risk of bipolar disorder", said the senior author.

Nature Genetics
Source: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41588-021-00857-4
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