Gene: Suicidal Tendency

Source: Suicidal Tendency, 24-02-2007

Meanwhile, American researchers say they are on the trail of a gene that may predispose people to commit suicide. Scientists at John Hopkins University say they are examining an area of the genome on chromasome 2 that family studies reveal to be implicated in suicide.

They say that ultimately it may enable them to create a life-saving drug that blocks some suicidal predispositions.

More details from John Hopkins University Gazette:

“We’re hoping our findings will eventually lead to tests that can identify those at high risk for attempting suicide,” said lead author Virginia Willour, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine. An estimated 4.6 percent of Americans ages 15 to 54 have tried to take their lives, according to Willour.

In the multi-institutional study, results of which appear in the March issue of Biological Psychiatry, the researchers examined data from 162 families with bipolar disorder. They looked at attempted suicide in this sample because it is an important clinical problem that tends to occur more often in some of these families than in others, suggesting a distinctive genetic basis, according to senior author James B. Potash, of the Department of Psychiatry. This technique of looking at sub-types of illness is used by genetic researchers as a way to reduce genetic complexity.

From the 162 families, the researchers selected 417 subjects who were diagnosed with schizoaffective/bipolar disorder, bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder.

Data for all 417 subjects was entered into a computer program that looks for genetic similarities between subjects with similar psychological profiles. Results indicated that family members with a history of attempted suicide and bipolar disorder showed a high degree of genetic similarity at a specific area — DNA marker D2S1777 — on a section of chromosome 2 referred to as 2p12. This is the same marker implicated in a 2004 study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine that looked at attempted suicide and major depression. And it is close to another marker, D2S1790, located in the 2p11 region of chromosome 2, that was identified in a 2004 study from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine that looked at alcoholism and attempted suicide.

Willour says that although the Johns Hopkins-led study does not pinpoint a specific gene responsible for attempted suicide, it does suggest a “neighborhood” in which the gene might be found. She adds that the next step is to further narrow the search and find the “address.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: