DNA Tests For Depression
In this new Millenium, DNA research has proven itself to be the best biological bold move when it comes to recapping health complications. In the continuing research to unravel the mysteries of depression, there has been the promise of a breakthrough, attributed in part to the hugely popular DNA test, which is being conducted for the first time, outside a medical facility.
Too many people who suffer from depression, effective treatment is often like a wild goose chase. Twenty to thirty percent of sufferers fail to respond to the initial dose of antidepressants that they receive. So they take another dose, and possibly another.
The concept of personalized medication is a medical procedure that charts patients into groups with medical practices, procedures, products or interventions being made to suit the individual patient.
Origin Of Concept
In personalized medication, employment of diagnostic testing is essential for the selection of the right therapies based on the patient’s genetic configuration. Information about genes, cells, and molecules has played a crucial role in isolating the right treatment.
Every individual exists with a distinct variation of the human gene (genome). And although this change rarely affects health, due to changes in the environment, and other behaviors, it can cause depression.
It can take some weeks, or even months to isolate a medication capable of relieving symptoms of depression with minimal side effects.
Thanks to the technological involvement in modernizing DNA testing. The relay of technologies on aligning a patients’ personal biology has led to not only easier identification but also confirmation of diseases.
However, research mining is not yet very accurate as researchers are still trying to understand how depression medication affects our neurons inside the brain, and what exactly happens the moment antidepressants, and neurotransmitters cross paths. Do we experience happiness, or are we numbed to anxiety?
A school of thought spearheaded by progressive minded geneticists advance the notion that nowadays it’s possible to design and produce medicine based on an individual’s unique syndromes. This so-called personalized medication prepared strictly and aligned to genetic profile.
What was previously thought of as science fiction is no longer far-fetched and fantastical, but a reality backed by solid research, that offers tremendous potential to control diseases, especially mental illness.
The revolutionary new gene-testing company 23andMe, in collaboration with Pfizer pharmaceuticals, is on the verge of isolating the DNA of close to half a million people, which nearly triples the number of individuals who have undergone similar research previously.
23andMe have collected and analyzed DNA specimens of more than 141,000 people suffering from depression and compared these with similar groups if individuals who tested negative for depression. This hitherto unknown wealth of genome data has provided researchers with 15 new regions of previously unexplored human genome; that is likely to trigger the risk of clinical depression.
Dr. Ashley Winslow, who is heading the research team, is a leading geneticist. She’s also the director of neurogenetics at the Orphan Disease Centre, at the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked as a neuroscientist at Pfizer in a different assignment. She has enthusiastically embraced the new genome data and noted that a lot of work remains to be done, in picking apart the 15 new landmarks.
Addressing a group of fellow geneticists, clad in white lab coats, masks and hand gloves, she said, “We need to isolate, right away the specific mutations within those regions, the disease-causing genomic change, then separates the genes involved in that s, in order to understand what goes wrong when these genes act differently within the genome. And thereby altering the gene function.”
Many people who live with depression have no choice but to fund their treatment, including medication. A panel of tests conducted on the patient helps to identify his scientific affiliation with the antidepressants he is taking. And when the patient lacks medical insurance, the cost of antidepressants can be prohibitive, thus exacerbating the already pressing stress.
There are two crucial issues here; the first being able to identify the kind of metabolism for drugs that the patient genetically possesses and the second the ability to discover the right ‘metabolizer’ to help guide your antidepressants treatment.
Because depression is classified as a complex disorder, any research was undertaken to demystify it needs to have an add-on effect. Dr. Winslow has pointed out the challenges faced when attempting to use genetics studies in a vacuum. She insists examining how human genome interacts with each other, and considering the risk favors likely to be encountered when exposed to the environment, like stress and light, the derived benefits far outweigh the challenges.
The researchers say it’s too early to examine the potential evolution factors, but they have emphasized that the various types and sub-groups of depression may unearth evidence of underlying biological and environmental reactions, which possibly may manifest themselves into various remedies.
“The fact that depression is so widespread,” Dr. Winslow says, “it’s the most common mental ailment of the known neurological diseases. And it seems to affect people if all walks of life.”
The study revealed that individuals as young as 20 and folks as old as 60 are at the risk of getting depressed.
She adds, “Because depression can be passed on from parent to offspring, we expect that the studies should have a genetic component. We are fortunate in that this study can isolate specific genome points associated with risk of depression.”
This project is in the initial stages to demonstrate how science can manage research using crowd-sourcing techniques. Genes for Good is involved in similar genome isolation research but on a larger scale. Evidently, Apple has invested heavily and has hired researchers to analyze a system that collects health data from their iPhones. 23andMe is actively researching diseases in collaboration with medical institutions and drug companies.
Arguably, technology has made it possible to learn crucial facts about previously unpredictable gene behavior. And as new medical information continue to get disseminated, it’s hoped researchers will unravel the mysteries surrounding depression, and make a lasting cure.
This story has first appeared as an interview on The Takeaway and public radio program that is sponsored by PRI. These are more than ordinary invitations an American citizen would like to participate in future.