Bipolar disorder is a condition that disturbs aspects of perception and cognition. It is characterized by extreme mood swings with highs (mania) and lows (depression), and affects approximately 5.7 million American adults every year. The exact cause is unknown, but research suggests genetic inheritance and/or brain structure and function are likely contributing factors. Bipolar disorder treatment options can include medication, therapy, day programs, and inpatient hospital stays.
Researchers at Mount Sinai are investigating the genes and biological pathways that contribute to bipolar disorder risk in order to move the needle on effective treatment strategies. One of the primary approaches to doing this is by comparing DNA between tens of thousands of individuals with the condition and tens of thousands of healthy controls. This reveals the areas of the human genome that are involved in this condition. Then, a number of cutting-edge technologies are used to map out how these areas of the genome result in the illness. These technologies include studying actual brain tissue from cases and controls donated postmortem, as well as neural cell lines. Together, all of these approaches enable researchers to understand the impact of genetic variation on the function of brain cells and risk for this severe mental illness, generating new ideas for drug development.
In the future, we will likely be conducting clinical trials or mechanistic studies regarding the depression component of bipolar, which typically predominates.
At Mount Sinai, our diverse team of basic and clinical researchers is dedicated to translating these research findings into clinical care.