Until now there have been few statistically significant findings in searches of the human genome as it applies to bipolar disorder, he said.
"By integrating the findings of multiple studies, we were able to sort through, identify genes that were most likely to be involved in bipolar disorder, and achieve this major breakthrough in our understanding of the illness," Dr. Niculescu said.
Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, affects nearly 2.3 million Americans. A serious illness, people who suffer from it can experience mild or dramatic mood swings, shifts in energy and a diminished capacity to function.
Dr. Niculescu, a practicing psychiatrist and a molecular geneticist, said this work opens exciting avenues for psychiatric researchers and clinicians, as well as for patients and their families.
"First and foremost, these studies will lead to a better understanding of bipolar and related disorders," he explained. "Second, the researchers now plan to study individuals to see which combination of genes is present in individuals to come up with a genetic risk score."
The goal, he said, is to be able to apply the risk score to test individuals even before the illness manifests itself for preventive measures lifestyle changes, counseling, low-dose medications or to delay or stop the illness from developing.
"Third, in individuals who already have the illness, genetic testing in combination with blood biomarkers for the disease, could help determine which treatments works best so personalized treatments could be developed," Dr. Niculescu said.
|Contact: Mary Hardin|