23andMe analysis pinpoints 15 DNA locations linked to depression

The efforts of crowdsourcing consumer-facing genomics tests is starting to pay off. An analysis of volunteered data of customers of 23andMe, an at-home genetic testing service, has located 15 sites on the genome linked to depression in people of European descent. The study and results are published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Researchers analyzed genetic variation in 75,607 23andMe customers of European descent who self-reported being diagnosed or treated for depression and compared that to 231,747 "healthy controls" also of European descent. Comparing these analyses to a prior genome-wide study and a replication of this study, researchers found 17 genetic variations linked to depression at 15 locations on the genome.

"We hope these findings help people understand that depression is a brain disease, with its own biology," said Roy Perlis, MD, of Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital and an author involved in the study. "Now comes the hard work of using these new insights to try to develop better treatments."

This study is significant for multiple reasons, reports The Washington Post. It is the first time researchers have discovered locations on the genome linked to depression in individuals of European ancestry. Second, the data came from individuals using a consumer-facing product and permitted 23andMe to use their information for research.

More articles on genomics:

Viewpoint: Privatized data contributes to health inequities, slow scientific progress 
Watson's data capabilities to help VA personalize cancer care for 10,000 veterans 
Mayo Clinic, Transplant Genomics to develop diagnostic tests for organ donors 

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