A first-ever blood test has been introduced that screens biological indicators of depression, such as inflammation and neurochemicals.
The test, which will soon be available the USA, requires a physician to request the test and is the first objective diagnostic measure for the disorder which is a finding based on biological markers of the disease.
The MDDScore blood test began with a Human Biomarker Library of approximately 120 biomarkers and a goal to design an accurate diagnostic test to aid in the diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) that was a biologic representation of a patient’s state of mind. The blood of healthy normal people and the blood of people, who had been diagnosed with MDD, were then analyzed to measure the levels of the 50 markers. The statistically significant differences between blood biomarker levels measured in the normal compared to patients with MDD, from the list of 50 markers was narrowed to nine.
The nine distinct biomarkers from four broad biochemical domains that are measured, include for inflammation: alpha1 antitrypsin, apolipoprotein CIII, myeloperoxidase, soluble tumor necrosis factor alpha-receptor type II; for the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis: epidermal growth factor and Cortisol; for neurotrogenesis: brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF); and for metabolism: prolactin and resistin.
A proprietary algorithm helps to provide mathematical model stability, which improves the accuracy of the test results. Results of the MDDScore are represented by values 1 through 9 with each increasing value considered an increasing likelihood of MDD. For example, a score of 8 is evaluated as 80% likelihood of MDD; 1 to 4 would indicate a low likelihood of MDD; a score of 5 could possibly be MDD; while 6 to 9 shows a higher probability of MDD. The MDDScore blood test is produced by Ridge Diagnostics (La Jolla, CA, USA) and is expected to cost USD 745 if paid for out-of-pocket.
Lonna J. Williams, CEO and founder of Ridge Diagnostics, said, "Every psychiatrist and primary care physician we talk to says they need to be able to diagnosis early and get the patients on the right treatment. And they need to know as quickly as possible if the treatment is working. The test has the potential to improve treatment, as well, because patients may be more accepting of a blood-test result. It''s of significant impact to the patient. Suddenly the patient sees a blood test that says ‘this is your disorder.’ It''s like any other disorder. It''s not in your head. It''s meaningful. It''s not your fault. The stigma abates and they become more involved in their own care."