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Bipolar Disorder newly discovered FAT gene Doubles Risk

January 13th, 2006

Bipolar Disorder newly discovered FAT gene Doubles Risk


Researchers believe they have discovered a gene that doubles the risk for people to develop bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness.

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 families.

"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.

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By Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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