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Researchers Discovered Genetic Marker tied to OCD

Update Date: May 14, 2014 11:12 AM EDT

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes repeated thoughts, feelings and sensations that drive the body to need to perform certain behaviors in order to find relief. Even though OCD can be treated, it can also greatly interfere with one's daily routine. In order to understand the disease better, a research team headed by scientists at Johns Hopkins examined the genomes of people with this disorder and uncovered a specific genetic marker tied to OCD.

"Like most other medical and psychological conditions, we need to understand what causes conditions, so we can develop real and rational treatments for these conditions and/or prevention," lead study author Dr. Gerald Nestadt M.D., M.P.H., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told FOX News. "That's why it's important to study or identify genetic causes, if there are any."

For this genome-wide association study, the researchers analyzed the genomes of over 1,400 people living with OCD. The team also looked at the genomes of more than 1,000 people without the condition who were close relatives to the participants with OCD. The researchers were able to identify a gene known as the protein tyrosine phosphokinase (PTPRD) that was associated with the mental disorder.

The researchers believe that the genetic region by PTPRD could reveal more information about OCD. More data could help researchers create better treatments for the illness. OCD afflicts around one to two percent of the U.S. population. OCD is often treated with antidepressants called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and/or behavioral psychotherapy. However, the effectiveness of these treatments for different people varies greatly.

"If this finding is confirmed, it could be useful," stated Nestadt. "We might ultimately be able to identify new drugs that could help people with this often disabling disorder, one for which current medications work only 60 to 70 percent of the time."

He added, according to Medical Xpress, "OCD research has lagged behind other psychiatric disorders in terms of genetics. We hope this interesting finding brings us closer to making better sense of it-and helps us find ways to treat it."

The study was published in Molecular Psychiatry.

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