Researchers have pinpointed 44 gene variants that increase the risk of depression, including 30 that have never been linked with depression before.

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They said their findings may help improve understanding and treatment of the disease that affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.

Previous research suggests that genetics account for about 40 percent of depression cases, while the remainder of cases are due to other biological factors and life experiences.

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“If you have a lower genetic burden of depression, perhaps you are more resistant to the stresses we all experience in life,” said study senior author Cathryn Lewis, professor of statistical genetics, King’s College London, The Guardian reported.

People who rank in the top 10 percent in terms of genetic risk factors for depression are 2.5 times more likely to develop the condition than those in the bottom 10 percent, according to Lewis.

She noted that while the study identified 44 gene variants linked to depression, these represent only a small percentage of the total, because many others have too small an effect to be pinpointed be the team, The Guardian reported.

“We know that thousands of genes are involved in depression with each having a very modest effect on a person’s risk,” said Lewis. “There is certainly no single gene for depression.”

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The study, which involved analysis of data from 135,000 people with depression and 345,000 without the condition, was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

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