A team of scientists led by Alexander Niculescu, professor of psychiatry at Indiana University has created a new blood test that promises early detection of anxiety disorder.
This can be revolutionary as the current methods of anxiety involve simply interviewing patients, and observing their behaviour.
According to the scientists, the new “BioM-95” test relies on 95 genetic markers identified during an elaborate study that examined both patients and their body’s RNA, which stress and mental illness can change.
According to a 2005 study, it usually takes several years for someone suffering a mental illness to receive treatment. In the case of anxiety disorders, the study found an especially long lag of 9 to 23 years.
In recent years, scientists have already discovered many of the genetic markers in the test. However, Niculescu and his team found an important new marker, ERCC6L2, that is common in anxious patients with depression. According to the scientists, the gene has something to do with DNA repair and the functioning of mitochondria, the energy powerhouses inside cells.
The scientists also claimed that the new “BioM-95” test proved better at predicting future hospitalisations with real patients as compared to the traditional “structured interview” method.
The study also revealed that only minor genetic support for the use of benzodiazepine sedatives such as Xanax and Valium, which can cause psychological dependence and a dangerous withdrawal syndrome.
Moreover, the study matched the genetic markers to medications that also modified them and came up with a long list of recommended drugs, many of them unconventional to search for alternative therapies.
According to reports, Niculescu’s Indianapolis-based startup, MindX Sciences, is already offering blood tests for mood and anxiety disorders, pain, PTSD, suicide risk and memory, but patients must pay out of pocket. The company says it will pursue “Medicare and insurance coverage in the near future.”