Diagnosing depression with blood tests

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A blood test to diagnose depression

Doctors may soon have a more objective way to diagnose and treat depression: a blood test that provides a score of one to nine. According to this system, a higher score equates to a greater probability that a patient suffers from a severe depressive disorder.

Developed by San Diego-based Ridge Diagnostics, the test measures changes in 10 biomarkers in the blood and uses the results to feed an algorithm that evaluates four different body systems to calculate the final score.

While MRIs and advanced blood tests can reveal many diseases in their earliest stages, diagnosing neuropsychiatric disorders typically requires an expert to assess how many subjective symptoms a patient exhibits. As a result, many patients either do not receive the proper diagnosis or are never diagnosed.

Doctors have been searching for an objective biological test for depression since the beginning of clinical psychiatry, 50 or 60 years ago. Scientists have tried a variety of methods, including genetic tests, tests that measure hormonal stress responses, or brain MRI. .

Ridge's analysis encompasses several markers. The company's scientists examined more than 100 markers to select a combination of 10 for their analysis of depression. These markers are related to the systems depression is known to influence, especially metabolism, the immune system, the nervous system, and hormones produced by the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands.

Ridge CEO Lonna Williams says the company has validated the biomarker panel and its algorithm through eight studies conducted on several hundred patients and control samples. To date, they have shown that blood test results coincide, in almost 90% of cases, with diagnoses made using the DSM-IV criteria and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.

Source: Technology Review


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