Results of a recent study published in the September 30, 2008 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that a relatively common gene mutation may protect people from ever developing bipolar disorder. The study, entitled “A common variant in the 3′UTR of the GRIK4 glutamate receptor gene affects transcript abundance and protects against bipolar disorder,” suggests that a missing section of DNA in GRIK4 gene provides the protection.

According to Ben Pickard, lead author of a study and a member of the department of medical genetics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the results of the study could lead to two major advances in how bipolar disorder is diagnosed and treated:

  • At-risk patients can be identified earlier through their genetic profile.
  • More effective medications can be developed that address the cause of bipolar symptoms.

Although the study itself is challenging to decrypt for the average consumer, Amanda Gardner, HealthDay reporter for U.S. News and World Report has done an excellent piece on this exciting study, entitled “Common Gene Mutation Lowers Risk for Bipolar Disorder,” in which she quotes several of the study’s authors.