Genes and depression

Published on Sep 18, 2004 07:16 PM IST

Five genes have reportedly been identified as being responsible for a person's state of depression.

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PTI | ByAsian News International, Sydney

Five genes have reportedly been identified as being responsible for a person's state of depression.

Deakin University scientists separated large families of Israeli sand rats for weeks to monitor their responses to isolation and examined different aspects of their behaviour, including grooming, social behaviour, the time they spent in the light or dark and how much they would explore or simply sit in the corner.

After researching for of 3.5 years, they concluded that depression was linked to basically five genes.

"In one family you get some animals that get depressed and they get over it, but then you get some that get so depressed they actually become suicidal and sit in a corner and starve themselves to death, and there are other animals in the same family that don't get depressed at all. Because they are in exactly the same environment, but have different reactions, then the problem has got to be genetic," News.com quoted Professor Greg Collier, head of ChemGenex therapeutics, as saying.

According to the researchers, the drugs presently used treat depression, cause various side effects, sometimes as serious as having a tendency to commit suicide. But, the new research can help in developing drugs without any side effects, they added.

"The hope is that we can look at the biology that underpins depression, so rather than target the actual five genes we will target the proteins or receptors that the gene makes that are slightly off balance," Collier added.

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