The California-based personal genetics firm has started to enroll 25,000 people with the disorders for the study which will be held in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Milken Institute and pharmaceutical company Lundbeck.

Through the genetic study, 23andMe plans to assess survey data, cognitive assessments and genetic details to advance scientific understanding of the depressive and bipolar disorders.

By combining cognitive assessments along with genetic data and survey responses, the study will analyze how genes affect various brain processes including decision-making, attention and visual perception in the participants.

23andMe business development vice president Emily Drabant Conley said: “We know genetics play a role in the development of depression and bipolar, however there is a long pathway from our genes to the manifestation of complex diseases like these.

“We need to look at these conditions in a more comprehensive way to advance our understanding. By studying cognitive function alongside genetics and other environmental variables on a massive scale, we hope to take a significant step forward in the study of depression and bipolar.”

The genetic trial is recruiting patients aged between 18 and 50 years. It will feature 15,000 major depressive disorder patients and 10,000 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder and will be open to only those who live in the US and have access to the internet.

The participants will have to give their saliva sample for DNA genotyping after which they are supposed to attend nine online cognitive assessment sessions of 10-30 minutes each.

23andMe says that the de-identified data of the participants will be assessed for gathering clues for understanding how genetics and environmental factors affect a person’s brain function and behavior.

Image: 23andMe has launched a study to explore role of genetics in depressive and bipolar disorders. Photo: courtesy of jk1991/