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U.S. researchers have developed a blood test that can diagnose depression in adults, according to results of the test published in Translational Psychiatry.
The test works by measuring nine specific RNA (molecules that interpret the DNA genetic code) blood markers in a particular patient.
The blood test is the first objective method of scientifically diagnosing depression, Northwestern University researchers noted. The test is also capable of predicting who might be vulnerable to depression and which patients could benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Additionally, the test can measure the changes in the levels of different markers in a patient’s blood, which means professionals can track a person’s therapeutic progress.
Professor Eva Redei, who developed the test, said the research is a major medical breakthrough.
“This clearly indicates that you can have a blood-based laboratory test for depression, providing a scientific diagnosis in the same way someone is diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” Redei said.
Redei noted that the test has brought mental health diagnosis into the 21st century, since the previous method relied on reporting and assessing non-specific symptoms. Redei said the test also offers the first personalized medicine approach to those who suffer from depression.
To develop the blood test, researchers tested 32 patients between the ages of 21 and 79 who had been diagnosed with depression. They also tested 32 non-depressed patients in the same age range. When researchers analyzed the RNA blood markers, they found that patients with diagnosed depression had levels significantly different than their counterparts.
The patients then received 18 weeks of therapy and were again assessed for depression. The blood tests were taken again, in which scientists observed that certain markers had changed in those patients who had responded positively to therapy.
Redei said she plants to test the results in a larger group in the future. She would also like to see if the test can differentiate between depression and bipolar disorder.
Source: CTV News
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