Gene may hold key to mystery of depression

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The Independent Online

The discovery of a gene linked to depression is a step towards solving the mystery of mental illness, researchers say. They believe it could lead to the development of drugs to cure the condition, along with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Scientists at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities found that damage to the gene, which is known as PDE4B, can increase the risk of depression. The gene helps the brain think and builds memories, but had not been linked to mental disorder.

Professor David Porteous at the University of Edinburgh said: "This is another important breakthrough in our still limited understanding of major mental illness. It is the result of a long-term research commitment to use the tools of genetics to better understand the root causes of mental disorder. It also suggests a new way of thinking about developing better medicines."

The discovery was made by researchers working with scientists from the pharmaceutical firm Merck Sharpe and Dohme.