The publication of over 100 genetic markers associated with depression has rocked the neuroscience community. Here, we sit down with one of the authors to find our more.
A paper published in Nature Neuroscience highlights 102 genetic markers associated with depression (1) – and it’s generating a great deal of excitement within the scientific community and beyond. Here, one of the papers co-authors – David Howard, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland – tells us more about the pioneering work.
What events led to the paper?
Over the last five years there has been huge progress in understanding the genetics of depression. Various different groups have all been working on their own studies – including initiatives such as the UK Biobank. Our group, based in Edinburgh, had initially elected to study depression in that particular cohort. Around the same time, there was an effort by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which analyzed data from 35 different cohort. We decided it would be good to combine the results from both sources. It’s taken the past year or so to work through all that data – and it all culminated in the paper published in February 2019.
We show in our paper that depression has a definite risk component that is dependent on genetics. Of course, there are other factors – not least prior and current life experiences – that influence the development of depression, but the genetic component is clear – and it’s detectable.