Using genetics to predict succeptibility to depression

Depression e
Depression poster. (Credit: Kevin Dooley, Flickr.)

The current state of genetic testing for major depression falls squarely into entertainment and education territory, with more to offer as a curiosity to those who can afford access than as a diagnostic or preventative tool. In this way, it’s similar to 23andMe, and emblematic of the hopes that have been pinned to the results of Genome-wide Assocation Studies (GWASs), which look for associations between traits (like disease) and small changes in DNA.

The following is an excerpt:

The possibility of harnessing genetic science to head off major depressive disorder, the world’s leading cause of disability, is getting closer. But molecular intervention for this common multifactorial disease is fraught with controversy while the science matures.

Promising but difficult-to-replicate results of genetic studies have triggered a proliferation of start-up private laboratories marketing genetic “susceptibility” tests on the internet, direct to consumers. Many of these products lack a robust scientific basis and the results are complex to interpret, even for experts.


View the original article here: Predicting the risk of depressive disorder: promises and pitfalls

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