NIMH and Washington University School of Medicine Bipolar Family Study Newsletter -September 2002
The goal of this ongoing NIH funded study is to identify
the genes that contribute to bipolar disorder.
To accomplish this goal, and over the past 12 years,
we have been recruiting families with at least two members
diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder.
Families were initially collected at only four sites in the United States
with Washington University School of Medicine being
one of the original member accrual sites.
However, over the past 4 years, additional research universities
have joined this effort and families are now being recruited at
different geographic locations throughout the United States.
During this phase of the project,
481 families across the United States have participated
in this important National Institute of Health (NIH) funded study.
As a result of the active involvement of families
we have already begun to better understand
why some individuals develop bipolar disorder.
In a recently published paper, we reported that
there may be a gene on chromosome 16 that increases
the risk an individual will develop bipolar disorder.
While this is important progress, this does not mean that a gene has been identified.
Rather, researchers are now trying to identify all the genes
in this portion of chromosome 16 and will then begin
to examine many of them in order to understand which might be involved
in bipolar disorder.
The identification of genes that affect the risk of
developing a mood disorder is very complicated and extremely time consuming.
Researchers have sought to identify the genes contributing
to bipolar disorder for several decades.
Recently, there has been some exciting news.
Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University reported that the gene
dystrobrevin-binding protein 1, or dysbindin,
is strongly associated with schizophrenia in Irish families
having multiple members diagnosed with schizophrenia.
While this new finding must be examined by other researchers,
this is potentially exciting news and may mark a breakthrough in psychiatric genetics.
To help us achieve our goal of identifying and understanding
the role of the genes that affect bipolar risk,
it is essential that we keep in contact with the families
who have participated in our study.
It is important that we learn about new family members
that may be showing signs of bipolar disorder
or any other mood disorder so that we can ask them
if they would like to participate in this important research project.
We look forward to keeping you informed of the important
scientific information we are learning from this study.
We also want to thank you again for your willingness
to help us better understand the genetics of bipolar disorder.
As our study continues to progress through its
recruitment/analysis phases and as new milestones
and/or discoveries occur we will continue to keep you informed of our advances.
On behalf of our Bipolar Family Study,
we want to thank you for your participation.
It is always a pleasure to find individuals who are willing
to give of their time in order to assist in our worthwhile research.
Without this effort and commitment, our study's goals and objectives
could not be achieved or realized.
Please feel free to call the study should you have any questions in the future.
|Theodore Reich, M.D.
|Caroline E. Drain, M.H.S.
|Carrie Wilcox, B.S.
|Brooke Wyrick, B.S.
Research AssistantR(314) 286-1378
Modified December 25, 2002