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Markers of Depression

Researchers have identified biomarkers that could help diagnose and treat major depression from a blood test, the Economist reports.

Currently, major depression is diagnosed by physicians' assessment of patients' mood, an approach that the Economist notes can be subjective. In the journal Molecular Psychiatry last month, researchers led by Indiana University School of Medicine's Alexander Niculescu analyzed blood samples from an initial cohort of 44 people with a mood disorder to identify genes whose expression changed with differences in patients' symptoms. After testing these RNA expression markers in additional cohorts, the researchers uncovered a panel of 13 biomarkers that can not only detect depression but also predict who might go on to develop bipolar disorder. The Economist notes that three of the genes in the panel may also give insight into which treatment may be the most appropriate.

As GenomeWeb reports, Niculescu is also a co-founder of MindX Science, which is currently offering RNA expression biomarkers testing for psychiatric conditions as laboratory-developed blood tests and following further validation, plans to seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its tests.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.