Monday, January 08, 2007

TO READ: Genes May Predict Antidepressants' Effects
If you're reading this blog, chances are you've been there: Your doctor is prescribing an antidepressant for your unipolar or bipolar depression, then mentions the caveat - a big caveat - that this may take up to eight weeks to be effective, if it even is effective for you. When you're miserable, eight weeks is a very long time.

Once again, however, genetics may soon come to our rescue. I've written previously on the burgeoning use of genetics in other aspects of depression diagnosis and treatment (see 10/9/06 and 11/13/06), but now researchers are approaching the very practical issue of predicting "Which med will work for me?"

National Institute of Mental Health scientists screened the genes of nearly 2,000 people being treated with Celexa. They found variations in two genes associated with the treatment. One turned out to be linked to serotonin, one to glutamate, both of which are brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) involved in depression. It's only a start, but ultimately researchers hope to have a panel of genetic markers that can be used to predict which patients are at high risk of failure or side effects if the proposed medicine is used. Hopefully before long we'll see the end of the sometimes endless trial-and-error method of finding the right antidepressants for each suffering person.

For more info: for WebMD Medical News, 12/6/2006.

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