[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/376011]
Prof Peter Schofield
A/Pr Ian Blair
Brief description Bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness) is a severe mood disorder, with a lifetime prevalence of up to 1%. The illness is characterised by aberrant mood swings resulting in periods of mania and depression with reversion to normal behaviour between episodes. The condition has a severe impact on sufferers, being demonstrated to be the sixth most disabling disorder in the WHO Global Burden of Disease report and increasing the risk of suicide fifteen-fold. There is a pressing need to define more clearly the biological basis of bipolar disorder as a necessary prerequisite to improved diagnosis and treatment. The underlying causes of bipolar disorder remain unknown. However, family studies reveal the high heritability of bipolar disorder and this familial clustering provides an opportunity to use genetic approaches to identify the predisposing genes. The long-term aim of our research is to investigate the biology of those genes that either cause or predispose to bipolar disorder. We have previously used genetic approaches to identify the first bipolar disorder susceptibility gene, a cell contact molecule located on chromosome 4 that is from the cadherin family. The aim of this proposal is to understand how this gene contributes to the risk of developing bipolar disorder. This will be achieved by identifying how the cadherin susceptibility gene, termed 'FAT' results in altered properties in laboratory assays or in altered behaviours in animal models. Identifying the genes responsible for bipolar disorder and understanding their contribution to the biological basis of this severe psychiatric condition is essential to translate these discoveries into improvements in the ability to diagnose, treat and prevent the illness.
Funding Amount $AUD 509,491.48
Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants
Standard Project Grant