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Blood test offers diagnosis for people with mood disorders

A new blood test created by researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine is claimed to be psychiatry’s first biological answer to diagnosing mood disorders such as depression or bipolar.

The test offers a potentially quicker path for ‘years of trial and error’ on diagnosis and treatment for mental health conditions.

The blood test would use RNA markers to test for mood disorders, aiming to develop a tool to distinguish between diagnoses of mental health conditions.

The study, helmed by scientist and geneticist Dr Alexander Niculescu, drew on research looking into how psychiatry relates to blood gene expression biomarkers – as this provided measurable indicators which include the state of RNA and DNA.

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The biomarkers were also found to be affected by SSRI’s (a class of antidepressants), which could affect how the treatment is planned for these mood disorders.

In the first stage of this study, the RNA biomarkers were identified and used to track mood states over a period of time. After this was validated by an independent cohort, including subjects with severe depression and severe mania, there were 12 biomarkers finalised through further testing.

The blood test using RNA markers is offering new hope to combat long waiting lists for diagnosis and could be a significant breakthrough in the industry.

Although the research is still in its early phases of conception, it is suggested by researchers that using these findings alongside typical clinical assessment is the best way forward,l providing a more conclusive diagnosis, as mood disorders vary from person to person in the presentation.

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