20 Gene Loci Are Newly Associated with Bipolar Disorder in Major International Study of Over 50,000 Subjects; New Gene Clues May Give More Refined Direction to Therapy Development

In the largest study of its kind, involving more than 50,000 subjects in 14 countries, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and more than 200 collaborating institutions have identified 20 new genetic associations with one of the most prevalent and elusive mental illnesses of our time--bipolar disorder. The study is reported in the May 2019 issue of Nature Genetics. A total of 30 associated loci (10 already known) were identified in the genome-wide association study. The elevated morbidity and mortality associated with bipolar disorder make it a major public health problem and a leading contributor to the global burden of disease. The identification of genes associated with bipolar disorder can help identify therapeutic targets for treatment and prevention. The title of the Nature Genetics article is “Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies 30 Loci Associated with Bipolar Disorder.” Bipolar disorder, a neuropsychiatric condition characterized by dramatic shifts in a person's mood, affects approximately 60 million people globally, 10 million of them in the United States. Unlike many other illnesses, bipolar disorder has been found to affect men, women, and people of all ethnic groups equally. While genetic and environmental factors have been demonstrated to play a role in the illness, the exact cause of bipolar disorder remains unknown. To identify genes associated with the disorder, researchers conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS)--a study type used to look across the entire genome for differences in the genetic code that are associated with a particular trait, such as having a mental illness.
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