Researchers find way to test for depression

March 12th, 2008 - 2:12 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 12 (IANS) A change in the location of a single protein in the brain could serve as a bio-marker to help identify patients with depression, a new study has claimed. The biomarker, which can be ascertained by a simple lab test, is likely to change the future of diagnosis in cases of depression. It also determines whether a particular antidepressant therapy will be effective in treatment or not.

“This test could serve to predict the efficacy of antidepressant therapy quickly, within four to five days, sparing patients the agony of waiting a month or more to find out if they are on the correct therapeutic regimen,” said Mark Rasenick of the University of Illinois.

Despite decades of research, the biological basis of depression is unknown, and the molecular and cellular targets of antidepressant treatment remain elusive, although it is likely that these drugs have one or more primary targets.

Rasenick said the discovery could help millions who suffer from undiagnosed depression or receive unsuccessful treatment.

Findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

“We discovered that in depressed individuals a signalling protein (called Gs alpha) is located in specific areas of the cell membrane called lipid rafts.”

In their study, Rasenick and colleagues compared brain samples from depressed people who had committed suicide with controls who had no history of psychiatric disorders.

They found that while the total amount of Gs alpha was the same in the depressed and non-depressed, the depressed have a greater proportion of Gs alpha confined to lipid rafts.

The localisation of other G proteins was not different. Rasenick and his colleagues have begun further studies to confirm and expand these findings.

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