Blood Test to Diagnose Depression

First Blood Test to Diagnose Depression in Adults

First Blood Test to Diagnose Depression in Adults

Test identifies nine blood markers tied to depression; predicts who will benefit from therapy

The first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults has been developed by Northwestern Medicine® scientists, a breakthrough approach that provides the first objective, scientific diagnosis for depression. The test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers. RNA molecules are the messengers that interpret the DNA genetic code and carry out its instructions.

The blood test also predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy based on the behavior of some of the markers. This will provide the opportunity for more effective, individualized therapy for people with depression.

In addition, the test showed the biological effects of cognitive behavioral therapy, the first measurable, blood-based evidence of the therapy’s success. The levels of markers changed in patients who had the therapy for 18 weeks and were no longer depressed.

“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,” said Eva Redei, who developed the test and is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This test brings mental health diagnosis into the 21st century and offers the first personalized medicine approach to people suffering from depression.”

Redei is co-lead author of the study, which was published Sept. 16 in Translational Psychiatry.

Redei previously developed a blood test that diagnosed depression in adolescents. Most of the markers she identified in the adult depression panel are different from those in depressed adolescents.

 

Source:  scienceblog.com

Harmful Effects of Smoking in Unborn Babies

Harmful Effects of Smoking

Harmful Effects of Smoking

 

The harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy may be reflected in the facial movements of mothers’ unborn babies, new research has suggested.

Researchers at Durham and Lancaster universities said the findings of their pilot study added weight to existing evidence that smoking is harmful to fetuses as they develop in the womb and warranted further investigation.

Observing 4-d ultrasound scans, the researchers found that fetuses whose mothers were smokers showed a significantly higher rate of mouth movements than the normal declining rate of movements expected in a fetus during pregnancy.

The researchers suggested that the reason for this might be that the fetal central nervous system, which controls movements in general and facial movements in particular did not develop at the same rate and in the same manner as in fetuses of mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy.

Previous studies have reported a delay in relation to speech processing abilities in infants exposed to smoking during pregnancy, the researchers added.

The researchers observed 80 4-d ultrasound scans of 20 fetuses, to assess subtle mouth and touch movements. Scans were taken at four different intervals between 24 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Four of the fetuses belonged to mothers who smoked an average of 14 cigarettes per day, while the remaining 16 fetuses were being carried by mothers who were non-smokers. All fetuses were clinically assessed and were healthy when born.

In common with other studies, the research also showed that maternal stress and depression have a significant impact on fetal movements, but that the increase in mouth and touch movements was even higher in babies whose mothers smoked.

The study also found some evidence of a bigger delay in the reduction of facial touching by fetuses whose mothers smoked, compared to the fetuses of non-smokers, but the researchers said this delay was less significant.

The research is published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.

 

Harmful Effects of Smoking

Harmful Effects of Smoking

Lead author Dr Nadja Reissland, in Durham University’s Department of Psychology, said: “Fetal facial movement patterns differ significantly between fetuses of mothers who smoked compared to those of mothers who didn’t smoke.

“Our findings concur with others that stress and depression have a significant impact on fetal movements, and need to be controlled for, but additionally these results point to the fact that nicotine exposure per se has an effect on fetal development over and above the effects of stress and depression.

“A larger study is needed to confirm these results and to investigate specific effects, including the interaction of maternal stress and smoking.”

Co-author Professor Brian Francis, of Lancaster University, added: “Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the fetus in ways we did not realise. This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.”

The researchers stressed that their research was a pilot study and that larger studies were needed to confirm and further understand the relationship between maternal smoking, stress, depression and fetal development.

They added that future studies should also take into account the smoking behaviours of fathers.

 

Source:  neurosciencenews.com

‘heroin-like’ medicine crush’s major depression

 

Non-addictive, ‘heroin-like’ medicine may soon crush major depression:

Non-addictive, 'heroin-like' medicine may soon crush major depression

Non-addictive, ‘heroin-like’ medicine may soon crush major depression

What could easily be the most important advance in the pharmacologic treatment of major depression and anxiety disorders is now unfolding. A new investigational drug, currently known as ALKS 5461, could deliver all the mood-enhancing and anxiety-lowering effects that lead people to use opiates like heroin and Oxycontin—without the potential for getting high or addicted. That’s right:  ALKS 5461 could be a non-abusable, non-addictive heroin-like compound. ALKS 5461 is actually a combination of two molecules. The first is buprenorphine, which is already used to provide some of the benefits of opiates, without many of the worst side effects, allowing people to get off of street drugs (as an alternative to methadone). The second molecule is now known as ALKS 33—and that’s the magic part. ALKS 33 interferes with the binding of buprenorphine to the receptors that are involved in making people feel euphoric. Those are the receptors also involved in getting people to crave opiates like alcoholics crave alcohol. In a double-blind, placebo controlled study (meaning, the participants had no idea whether they were getting ALKS 5461 or a sugar pill), ALKS 5461 was rapidly effective in relieving symptoms in 32 patients with major depression.  All 32 patients responded to the medicine—with results evident by seven days. What’s more, all of them had failed to respond adequately to traditional antidepressants like Prozac or Effexor. Ultimately, I believe ALKS 5461 could revolutionize the pharmacologic treatment of major depression and panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It should come as no surprise that ALKS 5461 is the brainchild of scientists at Alkermes Pharmaceuticals, the same company, which invented and markets Vivitrol, a monthly injection that can take away the “high” of using alcohol and street drugs—and in my opinion, ought to be something that every family member of every addict clamors to get their loved one to take. If ALKS 5461 comes to market (and I believe it will), then that scourge we call major depression will be dealt a massive blow.  It will still be imperative to use insight-oriented psychotherapy to get to the bottom of what unique psychological issues have fueled each person’s depression, but that should be easier—not harder—when folks aren’t struggling just to get out of bed and over to their psychiatrists’ offices. This is a really big deal.