NeuRA-Profile-2016 - page 14

Adolescence isacritical timewhen thebrainundergoeschanges toprepare for
adulthood.As thebrainexperiencesa transformation, latentmental illnessesoften
firstappear.On thecuspofmaturity, teenagers facemyriadchallenges that can
leavean indeliblemarkon thebrainandnervous system.
A
D
OL
ESC
ENC
E
Lithium is themost commonly
prescribedmood stabilisingdrugused
for the treatment for bipolar disorder.
However it onlyworks effectively in
about a thirdof patients. Another third
dopartiallywellwhenprescribed
lithiumand the remaining thirdof
patientsdonot respondat all.
Prof Peter SchofieldandDr Jan
FullertonatNeuRAandProf Philip
Mitchell atUNSWwerecontributors
to the InternationalConsortiumon
LithiumGenetics, whichconducted
a landmark studyofmore than2500
peoplewithbipolar disorderwho
had taken lithium.
The initiativeexamined the impacts a
person’sgeneticmake-upwouldhaveon
the response to lithium. This research,
published in the
Lancet
, has identified
a regiononchromosome21 asbeing
significantlyassociatedwithvariation to
lithium response, representing thefirst
step in identifying the specificgenes
andmolecular pathwaysunderpinning
response to lithium.
As theassociatedvariants arequite rare,
theclinical importanceof thesefindings
maybe limited.However, thecurrent
shortageof goodbiomarkersof lithium
responsemeans that any robust genetic
markersprovideuswitha real step forward.
Thediscoveryof geneticmarkers thatdeterminehowwell apatient
responds to lithiummaychangehowbipolardisorder is treated.
BIPOLAR DISORDER
Aperson’sgenetic
make-up impacts
howwell they
respond to lithium
for bipolar disorder
Theconsortiumplans tocontinue
theirwork inbetter understanding the
genetic signature that underpins lithium
responseby reachingout toother
researchers around theworld to increase
samplenumbers for anevenmore
powerful study in the future.
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