newly discovered FAT gene
January 13th, 2006
Researchers believe they have discovered a gene that doubles the risk
for people to develop bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive
Scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the
University of New South Wales, Syndey, discovered a gene related to
bipolar disorder. There have been other genes discovered in the past;
however this discovery has been verified by four different independent
study groups in the UK, Australia, and Bulgaria.
"We are the first group in the world to take a multi-faceted approach to
identify a bipolar risk gene - we used a number of families, unrelated
patients, and therapeutic drug mouse models. Each of these three lines
of investigation led us to a gene called FAT,” stated the lead author,
Dr. Ian Blair.
The scientists collected blood samples from 67 families with a total of
904 people participating. The research project has been an ongoing
process over the last 20 years and is a study of four generations of
"We know that the FAT gene codes for a protein that is involved in
connecting brain cells together, what we need to do now is find out
exactly how it contributes to the increased risk of bipolar disorder,"
said Dr. Blair.
Bipolar disorder or manic depressive illness affects approximately 2
people in every 100. The treatment for this psychiatric illness is a
mood stabilizing medicine called Lithium. The FDA approved Lithium for
the treatment of mania. Some of the side effects of taking Lithium can
included tremors and weight gain.
With the discovery of the FAT gene, hopefully further research will show
how Lithium works in altering the expression of this gene. The
scientists believe the discovery will help to diagnose bipolar disorder
in the near future and will make it easier to develop new medicines with
fewer side effects.
Best Syndication Staff Writer
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