Feinstein Institute and Cold Spring Harbor Lab join forces, seek manic depression genes

December 21, 2006

GLEN OAKS, NY -- Psychiatric researchers from The Zucker Hillside Hospital campus of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research announced today they have launched a collaborative research project spearheaded by James Watson, PhD, the co-discoverer of the DNA double helix, and a team of researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) to identify key genetic underpinnings of bipolar disorder (BPD), a mental illness that is known to run in families. Expected to last two to three years, the study will focus on early-onset BPD and will involve children with the illness and their parents.

"For complex illnesses like bipolar disorder that vary dramatically in symptoms and severity among affected individuals, especially children and adolescents, identifying genetic underpinnings is very difficult," said Anil Malhotra, MD, lead investigator for The Feinstein. "It is also critical to accelerating and confirming a bipolar diagnosis and developing more rational and effective treatments. Collaborating with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will help make this a reality."

The collaboration will allow the team to leverage the unique clinical populations at Zucker Hillside, a renowned psychiatric hospital in Glen Oaks, NY, with state-of-the-art molecular tools available at CSHL in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, and The Feinstein Institute in Manhasset, NY.

Commonly referred to as manic depression, BPD is a mood disorder that goes beyond the day's ordinary ups and downs, becoming a serious medical condition and an important health concern in the United States. More than 2.3 million American adults are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and research suggests that at least a quarter of a million children and adolescents are also affected by bipolar spectrum disorders, though some estimates are much higher. The disorder is characterized by periodic episodes of extreme elation, elevated mood or irritability (also called mania) countered by periodic depressive episodes.

"This collaboration brings together the major elements necessary to understand a complex illness such as BPD," said Dr. Watson. "The clinical and scientific expertise of the physician-scientists at The Feinstein Institute combined with CSHL's breakthrough genetics research is a perfect match. I expect this collaboration to contribute a great deal to our understanding of the genes involved in bipolar disorder and to the diagnosis and treatment of this illness."

Bipolar disorder usually develops in the teens or early twenties but can also affect children. Diagnosis of early-onset BPD is tough, though, because some of the symptoms mimic emotions and behaviors that are initially thought to be typical of children. Unlike normal mood changes, however, bipolar disorder significantly impairs functioning in school with peers and at home with family. Diagnosis is also hampered by the symptoms often being confused with other childhood-onset mental disorders such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or oppositional defiant disorder.

Children and adolescents who were diagnosed with BPD between the ages of 7 and 18 and who have two living parents will be invited to participate in the study. The researchers will analyze DNA from blood samples of the children and both parents. The participants will also undergo cognitive and behavioral tests and brain MRIs. The Feinstein research team members, including Vivian Kafantaris, MD, and Todd Lencz, PhD, in addition to Dr. Malhotra, plan to enroll 1,500 participants in the study -- 500 children and 1,000 parents.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder that begins in childhood or early adolescence may be a different, possibly more severe, form of the illness than older adolescent- and adult-onset bipolar disorder. Using novel genetic technologies, the research team hopes to identify for the first time genes that influence the risk of developing bipolar disorder at an early age. Such knowledge could help researchers develop preventative strategies and better treatments for this disabling illness.
-end-
The CSHL research team includes Jonathan Sebat, PhD, and Sydney Gary, PhD. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, and within the intramural research program at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD, are also collaborating on the study. This project is funded by a generous grant from the Stanley family.About The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Located in Manhasset, NY, and part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is among the top six percent of all institutions that receive funding from the National Institutes of Health. Building on its strengths in immunology and inflammation, oncology and cell biology, genomics and human genetics, and neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, its goal is to understand the biological processes that underlie various diseases and translate this knowledge into new tools for diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.FeinsteinInstitute.org.

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
CSHL is a private, non-profit research and education institution dedicated to exploring molecular biology and genetics in order to advance the understanding and ability to diagnose and treat cancers, neurological diseases, such as BPD, and other causes of human suffering. CSHL is ranked number one by Science Watch for its impact on Molecular Biology and Genetics during the last decade and is rated 10th of 4,000 charities for fiscal responsibility by Charity Navigator. For more information please visit www.cshl.edu or email the Public Affairs office at pubaff@cshl.edu.

Northwell Health

Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.