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Genetic roots of bipolar disorder revealed by first genome-wide study of illness

of 413 adults who had bipolar disorder with variations found in the scans of 563 healthy adults.

By pooling the genetic material of the adults with bipolar disorder, the U.S. researchers were able to scan the entire group at a small fraction of the cost of scanning each person's material individually. The genetic material of the healthy group was pooled and scanned separately, again at a fraction of the cost of individual scans. The researchers then zeroed in on the gene variations that occurred more often in the people with bipolar disorder and examined them individually.

An important issue in genetics research is that findings correlating specific genes with specific diseases in one population may not apply to other populations. This study addressed that issue by focusing on US participants of European ancestry, then repeating the study in a large group of patients in Germany. Similar outcomes were found in both populations, strengthening the validity of the results. A subsequent study is examining whether the results apply to other populations, and will look for common variations among them.

The researchers will soon make the results of their scans available, on a website, to other scientists who are pursuing this line of research.


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Contact: Susan Cahill
scahill@mail.nih.gov
301-443-4536
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
8-May-2007


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