Biomarking Depression for Better Treatments

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Researchers invented a blood test through biomarkers for bipolar disorder and depression, which they claim can deliver a more efficient diagnosis for patients.

1 in 4 people worldwide experiences a clinical mood ailment (depression, bipolar, etc.) during some point in their life. However, it can be challenging to diagnose these patients appropriately.

Depression Biomarkers

As of now, doctors must rely on oral reports from patients to assess the difficulty of their condition. Unfortunately, this will often lead to a missed, improper, or late diagnosis. E.g. many patients can be tempted to downplay or disregard any mental health symptom.

Scientists at Indiana University wrote in a new study, “(Mood disorders) are also sub-optimally treated,”  saying it has  “led to self-medication with drugs and alcohol, which has driven many to suicide.”

A neutral blood test may help provide better answers for a patient’s mental health, leading to better and faster therapy options.

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The Science of Blood Biomarkers

Researchers from Indiana University have identified 26 biomarkers in people’s blood that can measure a person’s mental health condition and their risk of developing a mental health issue in the future.

Biomarkers also can tell researchers which medications work for their patients — the process right now is arduous and must rely on ttrial and error

The term “biomarker” is anything in the body that is measurable to help evaluate your health. Biomarkers can be genes, hormones, molecules, enzymes, etc., which give the doctors ideas of how well your body is performing and any diseases present.

Biomarkers are an older technology — but they are new in the mental health field.

Biomarker Mental Health Study

The study involved over 300 research participants, and it took four years to complete.

The volunteers had been observed over time and had their blood drawn during low and high mood states. The scientists then compare the blood biomarkers from both mood states to determine what exactly changed.

Scientists cross-referenced their findings in massive datasets from other studies in that field, and they identified the 26 biomarkers. The results were then authenticated by measuring the biomarkers of patients diagnosed with mania or clinical depression.

The scientists wrote, “We also utilized the biomarkers to identify repurposed/new medications bioinformatically. The meds with the greatest potential for new antidepressants were pioglitazone, adiphenine, ciprofibrate and pindolol and the natural compounds chlorogenic acid and asiaticoside.”

The Future of Biomarking Mental Health

Now, researchers are working with pharmaceutical companies and doctors to apply these discoveries to people in the real world.

The lead researcher in the study, Dr. Alexander B. Niculescu, wrote, “this is our small part of advancing psychiatry from the 19th century into the 21st, to help it become like other contemporary fields such as oncology. The main mission is to improve and save lives.”


Dean Mathers


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