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Possible Predictor of Suicide Risk

Blood markers — especially expression levels of the SAT1 gene — might be able to tell who is at risk of committing suicide, according to a Molecular Psychiatry paper from Indiana University School of Medicine's Alexander Niculescu and his colleagues.

The researchers searched for genes that were differentially expressed in the blood of people with bipolar disorder, as people with that disorder have an increased risk of suicide, who had suicide ideation. They further drew on other lines of evidence, such as prior studies, to refine their markers. “It works like a Google search ranking,” Niculescu tells Nature News. “Those that had the most independent lines of evidence got the highest rank.”

The researchers then validated the highly ranked markers by examining blood samples from suicide victims and by seeing if there was a link between the markers and hospitalization for suicidal behavior in two prospective cohorts. A handful of markers were validated, including SAT1. "It was head and shoulders above the rest,” Niculescu says.

However, the study was small, though Niculescu tells Nature News that he plans to follow up on these biomarkers in the general population as well as in at-risk populations.

GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study, here.