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McLean: Improvements are needed for accuracy in gene-by-environment interaction studies
Date:9/8/2011

Belmont, MAA new study from McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and the University of Colorado concludes that genetic research drawing correlations between specific genes, environmental variables and the combined impact they have on the development of some psychiatric illnesses needs additional scrutiny and replication before being accepted as true.

McLean Hospital investigator Laramie Duncan, PhD, and co-author Matthew Keller, PhD, at the University of Colorado conducted a comprehensive review of the first decade of research looking at how specific genes and environmental variables interact to influence psychiatric disorders including depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alcohol abuse and suicidal behaviors. The study, "A Critical Review of the First 10 Years of Candidate Gene-by-Environment Interaction Research in Psychiatry," is now available online ahead of print publication in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"Based on our calculations and data from related fields, we estimate that many of the positive findings in this particular area of research may (unintentionally) be incorrect," said Duncan. "What we suggest, to be certain about such correlations, is a focus on the cornerstone of scientific investigationwhich is replication. The more we can replicate original findings in follow-up studies, the more we can be sure the results are accurate."

Duncan stressed that her paper is not meant to call for skepticism about the existence of gene-by-environment interactions, or psychiatric research in general, but to shed light on the fact that consistent, replicable results deserve more attention than novel findings and indirect replications.

"Genetic research is like trying to identify a needle in a haystack and statistically, it is predicable that investigators will find and report false positives," said Duncan. "To separate the wheat from the chaff, we need to do follow up studies and replic
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Contact: Adriana Bobinchock
abobinchock@partners.org
617-855-2110
McLean Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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