• Discovery’s Edge: A biobank helps find answers for bipolar disorder

a sad depressed man with his head in his hands and a woman comforting himTo the uninitiated, cardiovascular disease, body mass index and eating disorders may seem unrelated to bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression.

Yet, researchers with Mayo Clinic’s Individualized Medicine Biobank for Bipolar Disorder are examining all of these conditions for possible links.

The biobank began recruiting patients in 2009, with two missions. The first, to discover genes that contribute to or increase risk of developing bipolar disorder, as well as genes that influence illness progression often associated with other medical diseases (i.e. comorbidity). And secondly, to discover genes that guide or individualize response to treatment. So far, about 2,000 people have contributed medical information and blood samples to the biobank.

Mark A. Frye, M.D., is the co-principle investigator at the bipolar disorder biobank and the chair of the department of psychiatry and psychology at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“The scientific discoveries that are made should be ultimately used as additional tools for clinicians who are working with patients, to provide an accurate diagnosis and guide treatment, says Dr. Frye.”
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