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A new genome study for the very first time has identifies genome regions which seem to have an association with depression in people with European ancestry. The study researchers used an innovative way of enrolling people by analyzing data which people had already shared when they purchased their own individual DNA profile using an online service. These individuals then chose to participate in the research option. This method provided researchers with an enormous sample of DNA material to work with. According to co-corresponding study report author and Harvard Medical School associate professor of psychiatry Roy Perlis “Identifying genes that affect risk for a disease is a first step towards understanding the disease biology itself, which gives us targets to aim for in developing new treatments. More generally, finding genes associated with depression should help make clear that this is a brain disease, which we hope will decrease the stigma still associated with these kinds of illnesses.”

The genome study results could play a vital role in developing medical and genetic tests for depression. Perlis explained that “The neurotransmitter-based models we are currently using to treat depression are more than 40 years old, and we really need new treatment targets. We hope that finding these genes will point us toward novel treatment strategies. Another key takeaway from our study is that the traditional way of doing genetic studies is not the only way that works. Using existing large datasets or biobanks may be far more efficient and may be helpful for other psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety disorders, where traditional approaches also have not been successful.”