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Medical News & Perspectives
January 3, 2017

23andMe, Big Data, and the Genetics of Depression

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2017 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.

JAMA. 2017;317(1):14-16. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.14136

Three years ago, a group of more than 100 researchers presented a spectacularly lackluster finding in Molecular Psychiatry: a study of more than 76 000 major depressive disorder (MDD) cases and controls from combined data sets—the largest ever genetic study of the condition—turned up zero genetic associations.

“In most genetic studies in medicine, by the time people collected cohorts of up to about 10 000 cases and controls, there had been at least 1 genome-wide association,” said Roy H. Perlis, MD, director of the Center for Quantitative Health in the division of clinical research at Massachusetts General Hospital and a coauthor of the study. “Depression stood out really as one of the only exceptions to that, not just within psychiatry, but in medicine as a whole.”