Key Depression Gene Identified

May pave way for new drugs, scientists say
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2010 5:55 AM CDT
Key Depression Gene Identified
Scientists say they've found a gene linked to the onset of depression.   (Shutterstock)

American scientists have identified a gene that appears to play a key role in the onset of depression, a finding which may help researchers develop new treatments. A team from Yale University found that a gene called MPK-1 is twice as active in those who suffer from depression. The gene works as an "off-switch," they say, controlling a "cascade" of chemicals needed for healthy brain function, the AFP notes.

"This could be a primary cause, or at least a major contributing factor, to the signaling abnormalities that lead to depression," the study's lead author tells the Telegraph. Scientists compared tissue samples from 21 dead patients who were diagnosed with depression to samples from depression-free individuals. Subsequent tests on mice confirmed a link. (Click here to read more about depression and dementia.)

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