Navigation Links
Texas Biomed develops new approach to study depression; finding may lead to new marker for risk

Scientists at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and Yale University have identified a new target area in the human genome that appears to harbor genes with a major role in the onset of depression.

Using the power of Texas Biomed's AT&T Genomics Computing Center (GCC), the researchers found the region by devising a new method for analyzing thousands of potential risk factors for this complex disease, a process that led them to a new biomarker that may be helpful in identifying people at risk for major depression.

"We were searching for things in psychiatric disease that are the equivalent of what cholesterol is to heart disease," said John Blangero, Ph.D., director of the GCC and a principal investigator in the study. "We wanted to find things that can be measured in everybody and that can tell you something about risk for major depression."

The study was directed by Blangero and David Glahn, Ph.D., of Yale University. It was published online in October in the journal Biological Psychiatry and supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common and most costly mental illnesses. Studies have estimated that up to 17 percent of Americans will suffer depression at some point in their lives. The disorder has proven to be a tough challenge for geneticists. Despite strong evidence that people can inherit a susceptibility to major depression, years of study have failed to locate any of the key genes that underlie the illness. The scientists used blood samples from 1,122 people enrolled in the Genetics of Brain Structure and Function Study, a large family study that involves people from 40 extended Mexican American families in the San Antonio area.

Blangero and his colleagues looked at more than 11,000 endophenotypes, or heritable factors, and searched for the ones that were linked with the risk of major depression. They found that disease risk correlated most strongly with expression levels of a gene called RNF123, which helps regulate neuron growth.

Once they found this risk factor, further analysis directed scientists to an area on chromosome 4 containing genes that appear to regulate RNF123.

Because the RNF123 expression levels can be measured relatively easily in the blood, this finding could lead to a way of identifying people at risk for major depressive disorder, Blangero said.

"We might be able to know in advance that a person will be less able to respond to the normal challenges that come about in life," he said. "Then doctors may be able to intervene earlier after a traumatic life event to remove some of the debilitation of depression."

The study also shows the potential for using this method of analyzing a multitude of heritable traits as a way to zero in on disease-causing gene variants.

The research capitalized on the newest 'deep sequencing' technology that enables Texas Biomed scientists to search through more genetic variables. The GCC has 8,000 linked computer processors that are capable of analyzing millions of genetic variables drawn from thousands of research subjects.

Contact: Joseph Carey
Texas Biomedical Research Institute

Related biology news :

1. Earth scientists keep an eye on Texas
2. 7 Texas mammals listed as threatened on Global Mammal Assessment
3. Texas A&M anthropologist discovers long-lost primate in Indonesia
4. Texas invests record $3.5 million in startup cofounded by UTs Mauro Ferrari
5. Texas College Police Unit Deploys BIO-key(R) Mobile Data System
6. UT Southwestern scientist honored among best in Texas research
7. Texas Medical Center researchers win collaborative grants
8. Famous fossil Lucy scanned at the University of Texas at Austin
9. Texas researchers provide emissions data for livestock industry
10. Texas Obesity Research Center at UH assembles researchers to discuss obesity
11. Texas-sized tract of single-celled clones
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... ANN ARBOR, Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... with Eurofins Genomics for U.S. distribution of its ... DNA-seq kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... DNA to enable the preparation of NGS libraries ... in plasma for diagnostic and prognostic applications in ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... -- Munich, Germany , October ... automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos created ... that they can be quantitatively analyzed with SMI,s analysis ... , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze ... tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has ... Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... global voice recognition biometrics market to grow at a ... --> --> The report, Global Voice ... an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds the third-largest ... market. The trend of outsourcing to low-cost locations ... higher volume share for the region in the ... margins in the CRO industry will improve. ... ( ), finds that the market earned ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is also toxic to cells. ... at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of copper in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP and AdVenture Capital brought ... pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in their schools. , Now, ... the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip to Super Bowl 50, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: ... the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or 1,100,000 pre-share ... "Series B Warrants") subject to the previously disclosed ... 23, 2015, which will result in the issuance ... to the issuance of such shares, there will ...
Breaking Biology Technology: