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Possible Blood Test to Predict Suicide Risk

Authors say RNA biomarkers ‘signal’ suicidal thoughts (August 20)

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have found a series of RNA biomarkers in blood that may help identify who is at risk for committing suicide.

In a study published Aug. 20 in the online edition of Molecular Psychiatry, the authors said that the biomarkers were found at significantly higher levels in the blood of both bipolar disorder patients with thoughts of suicide as well in a group of people who had committed suicide.

Principal investigator Alexander B. Niculescu III, MD, PhD said he believes the results provide the first “proof of principle” for a test that could provide an early warning of somebody being at increased risk for an impulsive suicide act.

Over a 3-year period, Niculescu and his colleagues followed a large group of patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder, completing interviews and taking blood samples every 3 to 6 months. The researchers analyzed the blood of a subset of participants who reported a dramatic shift from no suicidal thoughts to strong suicidal ideation. The authors identified differences in gene expression between the “low” and “high” states of suicidal thoughts, and subjected those findings to genetic and genomic analyses.

They found that the marker SAT1 and a series of other markers provided the strongest biological “signal” associated with suicidal thoughts.

Source: Medical Xpress; August 20, 2013.

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