Thursday, May 15, 2014

Study Identifies Genetic Biomarker That May Contribute to Development of OCD

In a study published in this week’s Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine provide some insight into factors that may underlie obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which affects about 2% of the U.S. population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Gerald Nestadt, M.D., Ph.D. (pictured above), director of the OCD program at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues conducted a genomewide association study to identify genetic biomarkers associated with OCD. The researchers scanned the genomes of more than 1,400 individuals with OCD and approximately 1,000 close relatives (as a control group) of other people with OCD. The study results showed that patients with OCD expressed a particular biomarker located near the protein tyrosine phosphokinase gene—a genetic region that has been previously suggested to be important in the pathology of OCD.

"OCD research has lagged behind other psychiatric disorders in terms of genetics," stated Nestadt. "We hope this interesting finding brings us closer to making better sense of it." Nestadt concluded that, "If this finding is confirmed...we might ultimately be able to identify new drugs that could help people with this often disabling disorder, [for whom] current medications work only 60 percent to 70 percent of the time."

To read more about genetic factors associated with OCD, see the Psychiatric News article, "Familial OCD: Environment, Genes Both Play Role" and the study, "COMT Val158Met Polymorphism and Executive Functions in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder," in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. More information on OCD is available in the book, Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders: Refining the Research Agenda for DSM-V, from American Psychiatric Publishing.

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