Secrets of suicide decoded!

August 3rd, 2008 - 2:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Aug 3 (IANS) Canadian researchers claim to have found a clue as to why people commit suicide or go into deep depression. In a ground-breaking study, they found elevated levels of a particular protein in the brains of those who committed suicide.

An international research group, led by Michael Poulter at the University of Western Ontario and Hymie Anisman of Carleton University, found that the elevated levels of protein affected a particular gene that controls stress and anxiety.

During autopsies, they found higher levels of that particular protein - affecting genes that control stress and anxiety - in the brains of those who committed suicide, compared to those who died of other causes.

They said these proteins caused chemical modification of the particular gene in a process called epigenomic regulation.

This modification resulted in the shutting down or malfunctioning of that anxiety-controlling gene, impairing the individual’s ability to handle stress and commit suicide.

Researchers said this particular gene plays a major role in regulating brain activity. “The nature of this chemical modification is long term and hard to reverse, and this fits with depression,” said Poulter.

“These observations open an entirely new avenue of research and potential therapeutic interventions,” he added.

The study was conducted as part of the on-going research in the new field of epigenetics that examines how gene expression changes.

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