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Feb 26, 2008

Investigators Identify Blood Biomarkers for Bipolar Disorder

  • Indiana University School of Medicine researchers isolated biomarkers in the blood that identify mood disorders. Among the list of candidate biomarker genes, the investigators found five genes involved in myelination (Mbp, Edg2, Mag, Pmp22, and Ugt8) and six related to growth factor signaling (Fgfr1, Fzd3, Erbb3, Igfbp4, Igfbp6, and Ptprm).

    A predictive score developed based on a panel of 10 top candidate biomarkers (five for high mood, five for low mood) showed sensitivity and specificity for high-mood and low mood states in two independent cohorts, they report.

    The scientists measured whole-genome gene expression differences in blood samples from subjects with bipolar disorder that had low mood versus those that had high mood at the time of the blood draw. Separately, they measured changes in gene expression in the brain and blood of a mouse pharmacogenomic model. They then integrated their human blood gene expression information with the animal model data, human genetic linkage/association data, and human postmortem brain data, an approach called convergent functional genomics.

    The study is published in the February 26 advance online edition of Molecular Psychiatry.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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