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Genetic Causes of Depression Found Using Big Data
August 11, 2016 News

What causes depression? Of course, life circumstances such as traumatic events, severe stress or grief play a role, but heredity studies have shown that a genetic predisposition to depression is equally important as environmental triggers [1]. Until very recently, though, the genes that underpin such a predisposition have proven elusive. But last week, a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts General Hospital published their study in Nature Genetics, identifying fifteen sites in our DNA that indicate a risk of major depression. Part of their search relied on a large amount of genetic data made available through 23andMe, a company that stores genetic information from over a million individuals. Identifying these genetic markers are not expected to lead to any new therapies for the moment. But the study is a recent example of how large and popular repositories of data like 23andMe can be used to solve longstanding questions.

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