Cardiff University Bipolar study identifies genetic links

Bipolar Disorder may be linked to the control of the activity of brain cells according to a new genetic study led by scientists at Cardiff University, the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

In the largest analysis of its kind to date for Bipolar Disorder, genes from more than 10,000 people were studied by the team, led jointly by Professor Nick Craddock of the School of Medicine, Cardiff University and Drs Pamela Sklar and Shaun Purcell of Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute in the US.

The researchers examined about 1.8 million genetic variations in 10,596 people – including 4,387 with Bipolar Disorder.

The scientists found an association between Bipolar Disorder and two genes which help make proteins that control the activity of nerve cells by managing the flow of sodium and calcium ions into and out of the cells.

The results point to the possibility that Bipolar Disorder might stem, at least in part, from malfunction of these brain mechanisms.

Professor Craddock, of the School’s Department of Psychological Medicine, said: “The activity of nerve cells depends upon a delicate chemical balance. We do not know yet if the newly-discovered genetic variations affect the balance, and if so, how. However, finding these genetic associations is very significant and we hope will, in time, pave the way towards new kinds of treatment.”

For news of the Cardiff University team’s recent research into the possible genetic causes of schizophrenia,
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