Researchers in the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which includes a number of Australian research groups, have identified genetic risk factors associated with major depression. Published in Nature Genetics, the international study identified 44 genetic variants associated with major depression, 30 of which were previously unknown. It analysed DNA from more than 135 000 people with major depressive disorders and more than 344 000 control samples. Australian researchers are now seeking to build on the study by recruiting volunteers who have been diagnosed with clinical depression. The Australian Genetics of Depression Study is seeking volunteers who have been diagnosed with clinical depression to complete an online survey and potentially provide a saliva sample. One of the lead authors, Professor Nick Martin of Brisbane’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, said that the study’s aim was to identify additional genetic markers of depression. “Depression is very complex from a genetic point of view, so the more people we can recruit into the study, the more in depth information we will have to advance our understanding of this common, but debilitating, disease,” he said. “Our new study involves asking people about their experience with antidepressants with the aim of finding genetic factors that contribute to the effectiveness of these medicines for individuals. Our eventual aim is to develop improved treatments and also to recommend antidepressants for individuals, based on their genetic make-up, to avoid the potentially long and distressing process of experimenting to find the correct medicine and dosage.”
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