At some time in our lives one in three of us will experience the symptoms of depression or anxiety
but despite being so common scientists know very little about the underlying cause of these closely linked disorders.
But volunteers like Rayon Shani could be about to change that.
She’s agreed to share both her DNA and some of her medical history
to contribute to the largest-ever biological resource for mental health research.
Because of the fact that depression can feel like such a lonely feeling, it can feel, it can really make one feel very alone
just knowing that you’re part of such a great study of 40,000 people hopefully will just make everyone feel a bit less alone
and feel like part of a bigger community or, or just you know part of the future of medicine which, which I think is just amazing.
First diagnosed with anxiety then depression when she was 19,
raised Shani a sample containing her DNA will help researchers to compare her genes to other people with depression and without.
Samples from the 40,000 volunteers being asked to sign up online
will come here to the National Institute for Health Research Biosample Center in Milton Keynes to be processed and stored.
This is the largest facility of its kind in the world
with the capacity to store 20 million biological samples from people who want to volunteer to help medical research.
Now by adding mental health to this resource, researchers are hoping it could revolutionize our understanding and treatment of it.
I’ve been working in this area for 25 years and it’s far and away the most exciting thing that I’ve taken part in
because of its potential to transform the landscape of how we research these conditions
how we understand risk for them, how we understand treatments and outcomes.
So far researchers have identified 66 genetic links for depression and anxiety but now they hope to find many more.
And collecting DNA from volunteers who are willing to be contacted about future research projects makes the study even more powerful.
And we have a systematic framework. We’re collecting information about people’s depression and anxiety symptoms.
We’re collecting detailed information about their genetics
and by that we can then enable research that tries to develop new treatments
both psychological and drug treatments at a far more efficient way.
Researchers hope to have their first results within a couple of years with an ultimate goal of tailoring treatments to patients
helping the 10 million people who suffer from depression and anxiety at any one time get better quicker.
Tom Clark News at Ten