Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Shared Genes May Link Five Major Disorders, including Autism, Major Depression and Others

Recent study findings show that five major disorders— autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia — may share common genetic risk factors.  These findings may help pave the way to a better understanding and more treatment options for these disorders in the future. 

To look for common genetic markers, researchers scanned the genes of more than 33,000 people suffering from these disorders and nearly 28,000 people without such issues.

"This study, for the first time, shows that there are specific genetic variants that influence a range of childhood and adult-onset psychiatric disorders that we think of as clinically different," said lead researcher Dr. Jordan Smoller, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Looking for these genes in an individual now would not be considered a diagnostic tool.  However, according to Dr. Smoller, "It could change the way we define and diagnose these disorders, based on the biological causes. Some of the disorders we think of as clinically distinct actually have more of a relationship than we might have thought."

As more gene studies are conducted and analyzed, scientists will "be in a better place to identify shared cause of psychiatric disorders at a molecular level," Dr. Smoller said. "Ultimately, this could generate new models for drug interventions and possibly even prevention."

We here at the Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. are glad to share this important research and hope that these findings contribute to more treatment and prevention options for these disorders in the future.  Do you or a family member have special needs?  Be confident that your legal planning provides the protections you and your loved ones need.  Click here to read about Special Needs Planning at the Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C.  Please call us at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a free consultation. 

P.S. For the month of March 2013, mention this posting and save 20% of elder law and estate planning at The Farr Law Firm.

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