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STAR*D study examines effect of genetic variation in treatment resistant depression

Nashville, TN, December 6, 2006 Researchers are now better able to predict which patients will respond to treatment for depression through the presence of genetic markers, according to results from a major NIH study on treatment resistant depression released today at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

"Medications to treat depression are widely available, but no one treatment works for everyone. Additionally, it can be difficult to predict which patients will experience harmful or unpleasant side effects," said Francis McMahon, MD, Chief of Genetic Basis of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health. "We are seeking to better understand why this is the case, and, using genetic markers, develop personalized treatments that give patients the best chance at remission."

The research is part of a landmark clinical trial known as Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression, or STAR*D. The STAR*D is the only large sample of patients who suffer from major depression, and who are treatment resistant with the same drug for a significant period of time.

McMahon examined the effects of polymorphisms (common differences in DNA sequences) of 68 genes on treatment effectiveness and incidence of side effects. Analysis of the data showed that polymorphisms in a gene that regulates serotonin was positively associated with treatment outcome. McMahon concluded that individuals who carried two copies of the polymorphism associated with response were 18% more likely to respond to treatment than those who did not.

Polymorphisms in 2 other genes a receptor for the brain chemical glutamate and a protein involved in neurogenesis were also associated with treatment effectiveness. Neurogenesis is a dynamic process in the brain through which neural connections are formed and lost. Patients who carried all 3 response-associated polymorphisms were 40% more likely to respond to treatm
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Contact: Sharon Reis
sreis@gymr.com
202-745-5103
GYMR
6-Dec-2006


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