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Researchers develop groundbreaking blood test that could diagnose depression, bipolar disorder

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Apr 12, 2021 4:14 pm

Serving as a step in breaking the stigma on mental disorders, a group of scientists from the Indiana University School of Medicine has developed a breakthrough in developing a blood test that could diagnose Mood Disorders.

ICYDK, mood disorders are mental health conditions that affect one’s emotional state, such as depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and more. There have been no promising objective measures to diagnose these disorders—until now.

The study published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal gathered 300 participants and followed them in the span of four years to discover “biomarkers,” or symptoms that can indicate a person’s mood state. Biomarkers can be anything measurable in the body such as blood pressure to a DNA sequence.

"Blood biomarkers offer real-world clinical practice advantages. The brain cannot be easily biopsied in live individuals, so we've worked hard over the years to identify blood biomarkers for neuropsychiatric disorders," said the study’s head researcher, Alexander Niculescu. 

"Given the fact that 1 in 4 people will have a clinical mood disorder episode in their lifetime, the need for and importance of efforts such as ours cannot be overstated."

To test their hypothesis, the scientists consistently separated the subjects into two groups: high and low mood states. They recorded the participant's biomarkers over the course of four years and compared the samples with data from mental health databases. They were then able to find 26 common blood biomarkers in those diagnosed with severe depression.

The team had also done the same study with promising results on those with stress disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Aside from possibly using blood test biomarkers for mental health diagnosis, it could also be a stepping stone in providing the right treatment and prescription for those that need it. 

"Blood tests can open the door to precise, personalized matching with medications, and objective monitoring of response to treatment," Niculescu added.

While we’ve got a long way to go before mental disorder blood tests make their way for public use, it’s a notable step in creating empirical factors for treating one's mental health.