World Bulletin / News Desk
British scientists have identified biological markers in the blood which should help doctors match patients to the best type of treatment for depression.
The aim is to end the "trial and error" prescription of antidepressants, which is often the only way depressed patients can find the most effective treatment, said researchers regarding what they described as a small but promising study.
"The study shows that we could use a blood-based "test" to personalise the treatment of depression," said Carmine Pariante of King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, who led the study. She and colleagues found that high levels of inflammation - which show up in biological markers in the blood - are part of the mechanism leading to depression, especially to particular forms of the condition that do not respond well to mild or low-dose antidepressants.
"If a patient had high levels of inflammation, they could immediately begin with a more intensive treatment programme, such as combining antidepressants or stepping up the doses," Pariante said.
A MAJOR PROBLEM
Major depression affects around 20 percent of people at some point in their lives. The World Health Organisation (WHO)predicts that by 2020, depression will rival heart disease as the health disorder with the highest global disease burden.
While there are many antidepressants on the market, including top sellers such as Prozac and Seroxat, it is widely accepted that many antidepressants work in only half of patients half of the time, and drugmakers are struggling to come up with a new generation of drugs in this field.
In the study published on Wednesday in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, Pariante's team set out to try to identify two types of biomarkers - ones which could predict future response to antidepressants, called predictors, and others which are targeted by antidepressants and change over the course of treatment, called targets.
The researchers explained that in human cells, information from genes is transcribed into so-called messenger RNA, or mRNA, before it becomes visible as a physical or biochemical sign. So the team monitored the patients' mRNA before and after they were treated with one of two antidepressants - escitalopram or nortriptyline.
Escitalopram, sold under various brand names including Lexapro, Seroplex, Cipralex and made by generic drugmakers, is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Nortriptyline, sold under the brand names Sensoval, Aventyl and others, is an older type of antidepressant known as a tricyclic. They are both commonly prescribed as first line antidepressant treatments in Britain and other countries.
After 8 weeks of treatment, the researchers found that patients who were not getting any better were ones who had significantly higher levels of three inflammation markers before treatment started.
This suggests these three signals could be used to find patients who are least likely to respond to antidepressants, allowing doctors to consider a more tailored or "personalised" approach to treatment from the start, the researchers said.
"This is a small study, but the findings are promising," they said in a statement. "Personalised treatments for depression could help us avoid the current 'trial and error' way of prescribing antidepressant medication."
Children in Kenya make up 10 percent of all tuberculosis cases
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said 12 cases of Zika had been detected across the Philippines this month, including a 22-year-old woman from the central island of Cebu who is 19 weeks' pregnant with her first child.
When Rufino Borrego was 13, he was diagnosed by a Lisbon hospital as having incurable muscular dystrophy, the Jornal de Noticias reported.
Facebook CEO, wife to begin $3 billion initiative by building new research center
In a joint statement, the Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency confirmed 16 new cases, four of which were not linked to existing cluster areas.
A report by the The Climate Institute suggests that coffee could become extinct by 2080 if serious changes aren't made
The US and China - together responsible for 40% of the world's carbon emissions - have now both ratified the Paris global climate agreement.
Government says antibacterial soaps no better than plain soaps, could affect human health
Indonesia joins countries issuing travel advisory for Singapore, where number of viral infection cases have risen to 82
When dealing with ADHD, learning disorders and autism, how many of us focus on the connection between our gut flora, what we eat, and our mental state?
In an interview Hollywood actor Jean Claude Van Damme has stated that he favoured Arabic food and that the diet followed by the Prophet Muhammad was one that was best for the human body
El Nino has devastated Mozambique's Gorongosa park with political tensions threatening the park
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on skin for a few minutes to create suction, the therapy itself dates back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Earth has hit a record high with an overall globel temperature the highest ever on record
The National Institute of Health may fund research into mixed embryos to better understand human diseases and develop therapies to treat them.
Travel across multiple time zones disrupts circadian rhythms resulting in jet lag