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Feinstein Institute and Cold Spring Harbor Lab join forces, seek manic depression genes

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"This collaboration brings together the major elements necessary to understand a complex illness such as BPD," said Dr. Watson. "The clinical and scientific expertise of the physician-scientists at The Feinstein Institute combined with CSHL's breakthrough genetics research is a perfect match. I expect this collaboration to contribute a great deal to our understanding of the genes involved in bipolar disorder and to the diagnosis and treatment of this illness."

Bipolar disorder usually develops in the teens or early twenties but can also affect children. Diagnosis of early-onset BPD is tough, though, because some of the symptoms mimic emotions and behaviors that are initially thought to be typical of children. Unlike normal mood changes, however, bipolar disorder significantly impairs functioning in school with peers and at home with family. Diagnosis is also hampered by the symptoms often being confused with other childhood-onset mental disorders such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or oppositional defiant disorder.

Children and adolescents who were diagnosed with BPD between the ages of 7 and 18 and who have two living parents will be invited to participate in the study. The researchers will analyze DNA from blood samples of the children and both parents. The participants will also undergo cognitive and behavioral tests and brain MRIs. The Feinstein research team members, including Vivian Kafantaris, MD, and Todd Lencz, PhD, in addition to Dr. Malhotra, plan to enroll 1,500 participants in the study -- 500 children and 1,000 parents.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder that begins in childhood or early adolescence may be a different, possibly more severe, form of the illness than older adolescent- and adult-onset bipolar disorder. Using novel genetic technologies, the research team hopes to identify for the first time genes that influence the risk of developing
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Contact: Christina Verni
cverni@nshs.edu
516-562-1232
North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System
21-Dec-2006


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