LONDON (Reuters) – International scientists have identified 44 genetic variants that can increase the risk of developing major depression and found that all humans carry at least some of them.
The new findings could help explain why not everyone treated with antidepressants sees their condition improve, the scientists said, and could also point the way toward new medicines.
In the largest study of its kind, scientists also found that the genetic basis for depression is shared with other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and that a number of the variants are linked to the targets of antidepressant drugs.
The study – published on Thursday in the journal Nature Genetics – was a global effort, with data covering more than 135,000 patients with major depression and around 344,000 controls as comparisons.
“This study has shed a bright light on the genetic basis of depression, but it is only the first step,” said Cathryn Lewis, another King’s College London expert who worked on the team.