Scientists pinpoint gene linked to depression

October 18th, 2010 - 3:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 18 (IANS) Scientists have identified a gene that may be the “primary cause” of depression, thereby enabling the development of new treatments and early diagnosis of the condition.

Researchers at Yale University in the US have found that a gene called MKP-1 is twice as active in those who are depressed compared to those with a good mental health.

When activated, the gene appears to block pathways crucial to the survival and functioning of neurons in the brain, reports the Telegraph, quoting the journal Nature Medicine.

Neurons transfer and process information across the brain by a process of electrical and chemical signalling.

Prof. Ronald Duman, who led the study, said the discovery was “particularly exciting” because of the gene’s link with maintaining healthy brain function.

“This could be a primary cause, or at least a major contributing factor, to the signalling abnormalities that lead to depression,” he said.

This could also explain why up to 40 percent of depressed patients fail to respond to currently available medicines, researchers said.

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