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New Database to Help Speed Search for Bipolar Disorder Genes

Free online data covering 20 years of study to aid researchers in hunt for treatments

FRIDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A free public online database launched recently may help speed efforts to identify genes associated with an increased risk of bipolar disorder, a mood disorder commonly marked by alternating bouts of depression and manic behavior.

The Bipolar Disorder Phenome Database -- a joint project of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and Johns Hopkins Psychiatry -- offers detailed descriptions and symptoms and course of disease in more than 5,000 people with bipolar disorder.

DNA samples are also available from this group of patients, which will enable researchers to match specific bipolar symptoms with sequences of genetic material.

Information in the database comes from two national studies of people with well-documented bipolar disorder who had first-degree relatives with a major mood illness. Patient surveys and interviews were conducted over 20 years.

"This database describes the clinical picture of bipolar disorder in the fullest detail possible. It also lets us pick out meaningful clusters of symptoms that will ultimately help identify genes," Dr. James Potash, who led the Hopkins portion of the database assembly, said in a prepared statement.

The new database is described in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

More information

Here's where you can find the new bipolar disorder database.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, news release, July 31, 2007

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