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News Briefs II

Scientists Identify Genetic Markers For Manic Depression


Five genetic markers for manic depression have been identified, a finding that scientists hope will lead them to the first gene directly linked to a mental illness. Once isolated, the gene will be studied to see how it works and whether treatment is possible.

"We are very excited about the present search," said Steven Paul, a collaborator on one of three studies published independently in the journal Nature Genetics. "What this tells us is that there are many genes involved, that manic depression is a complex genetic trait."

Manic depression affects 2.5 million Americans. Symptoms for the puzzling disease - which scientists have long suspected was genetic - include expansive or irritable mood, racing thoughts, lack of judgment, and depression.

Paul, of Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis, Janice Egeland, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at University of Miami, and their colleagues found positive markers on chromosomes 6, 13, and 15.

The research was carried out by studying Amish families in Lancaster County, Pa., with an inherited tendency toward manic depression. The researchers identified markers shared by those who are sick, compared with those who were not.

Peres Pledges Vote On Final Peace Accord

The Washington Post

With national elections approaching next month, Prime Minister Shimon Peres pledged Monday that he would subject any final peace accord with Palestinians to a referendum.

Negotiating such an accord will be the task of the government to be elected May 29. Monday was the first time Peres suggested that he would give voters a direct say on the outcome, which is meant to settle the boundaries of Palestinian self-rule, the fate of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the status of Jerusalem and the rights of millions of Palestinian refugees.

Peres previously promised a referendum on any treaty reached with Syria in his next term. Both pledges are aimed at easing the qualms of undecided voters who want Israel to bargain for peace but fear Peres will give away too much.

In both cases, Peres told reporters flying with him to the Persian Gulf state of Oman, he and his Labor Party will ask for "a mandate to conduct negotiations," and then ask voters to confirm the results. The pledge, he said, allows him to avoid "all sorts of spurious reports" about what price he is willing to pay for peace, and it forces "those who have to conduct the negotiations" to "come to a result that will win a majority."

The referendum pledge has a certain blurring effect on the central issues dividing Peres from his opponent, Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Peres wants to press ahead with a return of captured Arab land in return for peace - much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Palestinians, most or all of the Golan Heights to Syria. Netanyahu has attacked both ideas as abandonment of Israel's security.