The South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is calling for local people to volunteer and join Stephen Fry in helping Cardiff University researchers understand how genetic and environmental factors contribute to bipolar disorder.
The actor, author and presenter, who features on one of the Trust’s anti-stigma posters, has taken part in the University’s study, along with TV personality Kerry Katona. But researchers need to double the number of the 3,000 volunteers who have so far donated DNA samples for analysis.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, refers to severe episodes of mood disturbance ranging from depression to elation that affect a person’s ability to function normally.
It is thought to affect one in every hundred adults at some time during their life and men and women appear to be affected equally.
As part of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium a major study looking at the genetics of common, complex diseases researchers at the University, led by Professor Nick Craddock of the School of Medicine, are trying to identify the many genes involved in bipolar disorder.
Professor Craddock said, “Improving the lives of those with bipolar disorder requires an understanding of the causes and triggers of illness. Research is vital. It is fantastic that we have already seen 3000 people but we urgently need more volunteers to get to the 6000 people we know are needed to understand this complex, serious and often fatal illness.”
The Wellcome Trust study aims to recruit six thousand volunteers who suffer from the condition to describe their experiences of illness and donate a DNA sample for analysis.
Speaking about his involvement in the study, Stephen Fry has said: "If you took time to participate in this study, you’ve no idea how much good you will be doing. It would be a wonderful, kind, graceful and noble thing to do. So much good for so little effort. By choosing to assist one of the greatest problems facing human happiness you will have done your bit to help remove stigma, shame and hidden pain as well as hastening the day when we all understand the operations of mind and brain a little better."
Professor Craddock would like to hear from individuals who have experienced one or more episodes of high mood (called mania or hypomania) at any time during their life. Volunteers will be visited at home by a researcher who will ask about their experiences and symptoms as well as taking a small blood sample. Any information given would be in strict confidence.
For more information about the research or to get involved visit the Bipolar Disorder Research Network at www.bdrn.org or contact the team on 02920 744392