Friday March 22, 2019

Scientists Identified 80 Genes That Trigger Depression

Nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression have been identified, a finding that adds to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder, say scientists. Depression, a common mental disorder, is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

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Suspension may lead to depression.
Suspension may lead to depression. Pixabay

Nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression have been identified, a finding that adds to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder, say scientists.

Depression, a common mental disorder, is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015.

“This study identifies genes that potentially increase our risk of depression, adding to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder,” said lead author David Howard, research fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Some of the pinpointed genes are known to be involved in the function of synapses, tiny connectors that allow brain cells to communicate with each other through electrical and chemical signals, the researchers said.

Opioid use may increase risk of falls, death in elderly
Old Woman. pixabay

The study could help explain why some people may be at a higher risk of developing the condition as well as help researchers develop drugs to tackle mental health conditions.

“The findings also provide new clues to the causes of depression and we hope it will narrow down the search for therapies that could help people living with the condition,” Howard added.

For the study, published in Nature Communications, the team scanned the genetic code of 300,000 people to identify areas of DNA that could be linked to depression.

The WHO has identified strong links between depression and substance use disorders and diabetes and heart disease.

Studies Show: Elderly With Symptoms of Depression Are More Prone to Memory Problems

Depression is also an important risk factor for suicide, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives. (IANS)

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To Ensure Transparency, WHO Panel Aims for Registry of All Human Gene-Editing Research

The WHO panel's statement said any human gene-editing work should be done for research only, should not be done in human clinical trials, and should be conducted transparently.

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A researcher works with embryos at a lab in Shenzhen in southern China's Guandong province, Oct. 9, 2018. An expert committee Tuesday called for the U.N. health agency to create a global registry of scientists working on gene editing. VOA

It would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct human gene-editing studies in people, and a central registry of research plans should be set up to ensure transparency, World Health Organization experts said Tuesday.

After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene-editing experts — which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies — said it had agreed on a framework for setting future standards.

It said a central registry of all human genome-editing research was needed “in order to create an open and transparent database of ongoing work,” and asked the WHO to start setting up such a registry immediately.

“The committee will develop essential tools and guidance for all those working on this new technology to ensure maximum benefit and minimal risk to human health,” Soumya Swamanathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said in a statement.

FILE - He Jiankui, left, and Zhou Xiaoqin work a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province, Oct. 10, 2018. Chinese scientist He says he helped make the world's first genetically edited babies.
– He Jiankui, left, and Zhou Xiaoqin work a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province, Oct. 10, 2018. Chinese scientist He says he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies. VOA

A Chinese scientist last year claimed to have edited the genes of twin baby girls.

News of the births prompted global condemnation, in part because it raised the ethical specter of so-called “designer babies” — in which embryos can be genetically modified to produce children with desirable traits.

Top scientists and ethicists from seven countries called last week for a global moratorium on gene editing of human eggs, sperm or embryos that would result in such genetically-altered babies — saying this “could have permanent and possibly harmful effects on the species.”

The WHO panel’s statement said any human gene-editing work should be done for research only, should not be done in human clinical trials, and should be conducted transparently.

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After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene-editing experts — which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies — said it had agreed on a framework for setting future standards. Pixabay

“It is irresponsible at this time for anyone to proceed with clinical applications of human germline genome editing.”

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The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the panel’s initial plans. “Gene editing holds incredible promise for health, but it also poses some risks, both ethically and medically,” he said in a statement.

The committee said it aims over the next two years to produce “a comprehensive governance framework” for national, local and international authorities to ensure human genome-editing science progresses within agreed ethical boundaries. (VOA)