August 7, 2014 – Suicide Gene


Anchor lead:  Can we identify those at risk for suicide by their genes?  Elizabeth Tracey reports

Suicide claims the lives of thousands each year, leaving in its wake incomprehension and pain for many survivors, and in some populations more and more people are choosing this route to end their lives.  Now a gene identified by Zachary Kaminsky and colleagues at Johns Hopkins may help stem the tide.

Kaminsky: We have found what we believe to be really a new player on the scene, a gene called SKA2.  This molecular mark that we found, which acts a little bit like a dimmer switch to turn down levels of the gene in the brain, seems to be associated with the stress response pathways.  Stress response has been shown to be important in suicide, and so finding this gene really makes a lot of sense.  We’ve found a consistent change in three brain bank tissue cohorts and also three separate blood cohorts.  :30

Kaminsky says the finding points the way to development of a simple blood test that may help predict who’s at risk.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.