Blood Tests for Bipolar I Disorder

I experienced an interesting confluence of events the other day. My 11-year-old son has been finding out about the great power of online information. Although we limit his access to assistance with homework, he is already a digital whiz kid who knows where to find a great deal of information for writing tomes like Norse history reports. In my day, it would have taken an entire afternoon of digging through texts at a university library to obtain items he found in a few seconds.

The confluence came about because of what I was doing while sitting next to him. While he was busy downloading information about Vikings, I was reading an update on a story that I have been following for a few years: the attempt to create a simple, objective blood test that could properly identify mood disorders. That would be a truly handy gadget for mental health professionals to have in their diagnostic tool kits! Going through the literature, which relies heavily on gene expression data, it hit me how profoundly the judicious use of online databases has contributed to the scientific rigor of the research. The Internet was not only seminal to my son’s work but also to this blood test research.

In this column, I will discuss new progress on this Internet-boosted line of inquiry. I will begin with a few basics about differential gene expression and microarrays and will then move on to something that researchers are calling “convergent functional genomics.” As you shall see, the clever use of online databases both confirmed and extended the work done at the bench. As a result, it may very well be possible in the next few years to have a clinic-ready blood test that is capable of diagnosing unipolar and bipolar depression. There may even be a diagnostic test for schizophrenia.

Download the column (PDF)
, which appears in the September issue of Psychiatric Times.


isdisasystem said...

Uh-oh...It's the mainstream finally noticing the emergent psychonautica out here in the outre'-net. Mind-hacks...what was that..? 4 years ago ?

Anonymous said...

Interesting to know , there will be a diagnostic test for bipolar disorder and schizo too..

that would be very handy !