New Genetic Biomarkers Uncovered, Enabling Development of Lab Test for Bipolar Spectrum Disorder in Three-Year Outlook

Friday, July 14, 2023

In a significant breakthrough, researchers from The London Psychiatry Centre (TLPC) have identified novel genetic biomarkers associated with bipolar spectrum disorder (BSD). This groundbreaking discovery has the potential to pave the way for the development of the first-ever diagnostic lab test in the field of psychiatry. The researchers anticipate that this test could be available within a relatively short timeframe of three years.

The study titled "Towards the First Biomarker Test for Bipolar Spectrum Disorder: An Evaluation of 199 Patients in an Outpatient Setting" was recently published in the Journal of Personalised Medicine. Led by Dr. Andy Zamar and his team from TLPC, the study revealed a higher occurrence of specific genetic mutations related to BSD compared to the general population. These mutations were found in the pathways associated with thyroid hormone activation and transportation, both within and outside the brain. The research involved analyzing 199 patients diagnosed with bipolar spectrum disorder, showcasing a significant sensitivity rate of up to 87% in accurately detecting true positive cases. A comparative analysis was also conducted, including 179 patients with recurrent depression, 152 healthy individuals, and up to 357,000 controls from the US National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Dr. Andy Zamar, the Medical Director of TLPC, expressed enthusiasm regarding the findings and mentioned that an independent replication study has been commissioned in collaboration with King's College London (KCL). With these encouraging results, the development of a diagnostic lab test for bipolar spectrum disorder may become a reality within the next 24 to 36 months.

The current diagnostic process for bipolar disorders in the UK takes an average of 13 years, leaving many cases undiagnosed, especially those falling under the subthreshold form. This delay often leads to misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, with patients frequently being prescribed antidepressants that can exacerbate the condition. Dr. Zamar hopes that the outcomes of this research will not only enable accurate and prompt diagnosis but also prevent the adverse consequences of misdiagnosis and mistreatment.

TLPC has filed a patent application for the potential laboratory test for bipolar spectrum disorder. Renowned for their pioneering work in psychiatry, TLPC has introduced several groundbreaking technologies in the UK and Europe, including the innovative combination of rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) and thyroid hormones in the treatment of bipolar spectrum disorder.

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