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Release: Immediate

EDITORS: This release was originally distributed Sept. 12, 1997

Additional participants invited to join UI panic disorder study

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Psychiatry researchers at the University of Iowa College of Medicine invite persons ages 18-24 who have a parent or sibling with panic disorder to take part in a study to identify a trait in people who do not have the illness.

"The exact cause of panic disorder is unknown, although there is good evidence that it is in part genetically determined," said William Coryell, M.D., professor of psychiatry and lead investigator in the study.

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that features panic attacks. Physical symptoms -- such as dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath and sweating -- accompany panic attacks. Panic disorder affects as many as 3 percent of the population and occurs more often in women than men.

Some researchers believe that people with panic disorder may have respiratory drive systems that are especially sensitive to low levels of carbon dioxide. "Our study is designed to see if this is true of persons whose parents or siblings experience panic disorder," Coryell said. "Data from pilot studies suggest this is the case, and we want to be able to confirm that." If researchers do confirm this, Coryell added, then the test could be a useful tool in identifying a gene for the disorder.

Individuals ages 18-24 who can give a clear account of a parent or sibling who has been treated for panic disorder may be eligible to take part in the study, which will consist of one visit to the UI.

Participants will be interviewed and asked to complete a questionnaire, give a blood sample, and undergo two breathing tests. The first test will involve inhaling a low concentration of carbon dioxide for three minutes. For the second test, participants will inhale a single breath of a higher concentration of carbon dioxide. Participation in the study will last approximately three to five hours.

Compensation is available for study participants. For more information, call (319) 353-4162 or 1-800-634-6581, or contact via email at