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Lundbeck collaborates on study between genetics and psychiatric disorders

Anders Gersel Pedersen

H. Lundbeck joins personal genetics company 23andMe and think tank the Milken Institute in a large new study to increase the understanding of the underlying causes of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD/unipolar depression) and Bipolar Depression.

Further, the study will explore how these disorders and brain functions such as attention and decision-making are related to genetics.

The study will recruit a total of 25,000 participants (15,000 with MDD, 10,000 with Bipolar Depression) who will have their DNA tested and complete cognitive tests and surveys over nine months. It is the first time these elements will be combined to study these disorders. The study also stands out with the high number of participants observed over a longer time period.

“In order to identify new treatment hypotheses enabling us to develop better drugs for the treatment of MDD and Bipolar Depression, we are constantly seeking new knowledge about the underlying biology and its link to the clinical characteristics. To this end, we expect the study to provide detailed insights into the interaction of mood symptoms, cognitive processes and environmental factors, and to link these factors to genetic data. The latter will provide entry points into the biological processes underlying these diseases,” says Anders Gersel Pedersen, Executive Vice President, Research & Development at Lundbeck.

The study will address two main challenges in treating MDD and Bipolar Depression; the fact that patients can be very different both with regards to symptoms and to the biological processes leading to these symptoms. Patients may also respond very differently to treatment.

MDD and Bipolar Depression are known to be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors, but exactly how and how much which factor weighs in, why, when and in which patients is not known. The new study will hopefully provide data to better understand the factors and their interactions.

Further, Lundbeck hopes that the study results will reveal ways of how to decompose the heterogeneity of the patient populations. This knowledge would be fuelled directly into the company’s research and development efforts to develop future treatments.

Study information

The study will be conducted in the United States only. Participants must be 18-50 years old, live in the United States, have access to a desktop or laptop computer (smartphones and tablets will not work with this study), have been prescribed medication to treat MDD or Bipolar Depression, are willing to provide a saliva sample for DNA testing and are willing to complete monthly study sessions over the course of nine months. Participants’ data is de-identified to preserve privacy.