Researchers announce major new study on depression


Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) at the University of Oxford today announce a major new study into the genetics of major depression in a population of women in China.  The five-year project is funded by a £1.4 million grant from the Wellcome Trust.  One of the largest studies into depression ever carried out in China, the project is collaboration between the University of Oxford, Hua Shan Hospital at Fudan University, China, and the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

In the first stage of the project, interviewers in China will talk to over 6,000 women who have suffered from recurrent lifetime major depression.  They will also interview 6,000 matched controls - women who have never suffered from depression.  In each of 15 hospitals across China, interviewers (psychiatrists trained by the VCU) will complete a detailed questionnaire on each woman who has volunteered to participate.  In the second stage, DNA will be extracted from saliva samples collected from all interviewed women.  The DNA will then be analysed to establish differences between the genetic profiles of the women affected by depression (cases) and those who have never suffered from depression (controls).

Professor Jonathan Flint (WTCHG), a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and one of the project co-directors, says: ""We know that major depression has a genetic component.  This project aims to identify the specific genes that make some people more susceptible than others to recurrent bouts of major depression.  Knowing more about the biological basis of depression will help researchers develop better therapies ".

This Wellcome Trust funded project follows on from a successful pilot project of 1,000 women funded by the mental health research charity, NARSAD.

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