A team of scientists, including researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine, is making promising discoveries in the biology behind bipolar disorder that could lead to better treatment options for patients. Bipolar disorder is defined by the National Institutes of Mental Health as a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Through the study, which is the largest genetic study of bipolar disorder, scientists evaluated more than 40,000 cases and found 64 variations along the human genome associated with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. From those 64 regions, the working group identified several genes that appear to be druggable targets; some of these already have drugs associated with them that are approved for other uses. IU researcher Howard Edenberg says scientists are beginning to learn more about bipolar biology based on the genetics, and the variants found in the study point to pathways, including one in which nerve cells talk to each other. Additionally, Edenberg says the genetics also showed how similar type 1 bipolar disorder is to schizophrenia and type 2 bipolar disorder to major depressive disorder. IU’s John Nurnberger says these findings are important because they have the potential to lead to better treatments specifically tailored to individuals with bipolar disorder.
In other news, Democrats and Republicans have sharply contrasting views about the importance of a free press, an independent judiciary, the Bill of Rights and a potent Congress, according to a survey of public attitudes about political institutions and public affairs conducted by IU’s Center on Representative Government and Center on American Politics. In the survey, conducted in late 2020, Republicans and Democrats expressed similar support for the checks and balances afforded by the three branches of U.S. government. However, most survey findings exhibited several key differences in the opinions of Democrats and Republicans on issues concerning the influence of Congress in relation to the other main branches of U.S. government, as well as the media. According to the survey, 72 percent of Democrats, versus 51 percent of Republicans, indicated it was very important that government protects individuals' right to engage in peaceful protest. When it comes to unpopular speech, 60 percent of Republicans, versus 38 percent of Democrats, indicated it was very important to America's representative government that parties and candidates are not barred due to their political beliefs and ideologies. Additionally, when asked whether members of Congress should compromise with their opponents to get something done or stand up for their principles no matter what, 73 percent of Democrats indicated they favored compromise, compared to 48 percent of Republicans who felt the same. Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. congressman and founder of the IU Center on Representative Government, says these differences may make it more difficult for Congress to reach negotiated compromises and instead may lead to legislative and policy gridlock.