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DURHAM, N.C., Dec 09, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Duke University Medical Center researchers have discovered a genetic defect that could be the key in screening for predisposition to major depression.
Their study found patients with depression who carry the abnormal gene also show resistance to treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, a class of drugs that includes paroxetine or Paxil, sertraline or Zoloft, and fluoxetine or Prozac.
In addition to its diagnostic use, the genetic marker might therefore also aid in identifying in advance those patients who will likely fail to respond well to SSRI therapy.
"Abnormalities in brain levels of serotonin have been widely suspected as a key contributor to major depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders," said Professor Marc Caron, a researcher in the department of cell biology. "Our findings provide a novel molecular mechanism underlying dysfunction in serotonin neurotransmission in some patients with depression."
Major depression affects an estimated 20 million people in the United States.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.