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Monday, April 23, 2007

Possible bipolar disorder genes found, scientist reports

By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff

The data are so fresh and preliminary that researchers have not submitted a paper to a scientific journal yet. But Pamela Sklar, a geneticist at the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, said yesterday that new genome scans have identified a crop of previously unsuspected genes that - at first glance, at least - may be connected to bipolar disorder.

Sklar spoke to the Boston Mental Health Research Symposium at the Boston Harbor Hotel, an event sponsored by NARSAD - The Mental Health Research Association, a major funder of research on mental illness. The results are far from definitive, she said, and need to be replicated.

Sklar and others are taking advantage of rapid advances in gene-scanning technology to try to find the elusive genes for bipolar disorder - which is believed to affect about 1 percent of the population - as well as schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

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