Kings College LondonDepression has been affecting a considerable amount of the population from time to time. Major depression affects 20 percent of people while 4 percent are affected by severe and recurring depression. It is predicted to become the disorder with the highest disease burden in the world by 2020. A study led by King’s College London has discovered the first clear cut proof that genetic variations on chromosome 3 may cause depression. It has been concurrently put forward by a group from Washington University too.

The study put forth by King’s is a part of the Depression Network project of over 800 families with persistent depression. The study showcases the result of their 10 year hard work.

Dr Gerome Breen, lead author and lecturer at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry stated, “In a large number of families where two or more members have depression we found robust evidence that a region called chromosome 3p25-26 is strongly linked to the disorder. These findings are truly exciting as possibly for the first time we have found a genetic locus for depression.”

Dr Breen further specified that these findings will not serve as a test for depression but will help to reveal the genes that change in the course of the disease. This important discovery of being aware of the risk of depression may help to develop certain important therapies although they can’t be expected in the next 15-20 years.

“Any one of 40 genes in chromosome 3p25-26 could be responsible so we are currently conducting detailed sequencing examinations in 40 of the families involved, to identify specific genes and variations that are causing the linkage. Results of these studies should be available next year,” he confirmed.

Dr Michele Pergadia, lead author and Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University commented, “I think we are just beginning to make our way through the maze of influences on depression and this is an important step toward understanding what may be happening at the genetic and molecular levels. Our future research may focus on trying to learn more about how heavy smoking and depression are linked in this area.”

Dr Breen concludes by expressing his satisfaction over the study where two different sets of data collected and examined at two different places got a common ground. He believes that this is a rare phenomenon in genetic studies of depression.

The study has been published in the American study of Psychiatry.