A scientific expedition into the DNA of more than 400,000 customers of gene-testing company 23andMe has uncovered the first major trove of genetic clues to the cause of depression.
The study, the largest of its kind, detected 15 regions of human genome linked to a higher risk of struggling with serious depression. The study was carried out by drug giant Pfizer as part of an alliance with 23andMe, the California company whose gene reports have been purchased by more than 1.2 million people.
So far the vast majority of efforts to locate genetic risks for depression have failed, probably because the efforts have been too small to find anything.
“The big story is that 23andMe got us over the inflection point for depression,” says Douglas Levinson, a psychiatrist and gene researcher at Stanford University involved with the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, another gene-hunting group. “That is exciting. It makes us optimistic that we are finally there.”
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