According to George Papakostas, the leading MD from the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts, soon blood tests will be able to predict forms of depression in patients. His recent study on the matter suggests that a multi-assay blood test focused on the analysis of nine biomarkers can accurately detect individuals that are prone to developing major depression disorders.
It is important to note that the accuracy of the predictions is quite impressive, given the 81% rate of precision. Even though the test needs to be replicated in the population, Dr. Papakostas is confident that it will soon be included in specialty phlebotomy training and among the clinical screening tools.
Details of the study
The initial research was made on two homogenous groups, out of which 36 were diagnosed with the major depression disorder and 43 were healthy participants. Essentially, the researchers extracted blood samples from the participants and measured the serum-based biomarkers. The criteria for the selection of the biomarkers were the main biochemical domains, namely metabolism, inflammation, neurotrogenesis and the major glands. Therefore, the team of researchers measured and analyzed various hormones, such as cortisol, epidermal growth factor, antitrypsin, and etc.
The results of this study can permit psychiatrists to discuss the possible pathophysiology for depression as being present in the area of inflammation. However, as presented in the limitations of the study, the results can distinguish depression, but cannot really predict if the MDD will develop in cases of individuals who test positive. At the same time, Dr. Papakostas pointed out that the results cannot predict if a cured individual who tested positive is at risk of having the condition again.
It is necessary to point out the fact that psychiatrists have been struggling for decades to find a reliable approach to diagnosing debilitating mental conditions, such as major depression disorders. In fact, the individual diagnosis tests consisting of marker-based approaches were elusive and essentially, did not provide sufficient level of sensibility or specificity to be considered usable in the clinical medium. On the other hand, the study of Dr. Papakostas proved 81% specificity and 91% sensitivity in differentiating healthy patients from those with major depression. The possibility of identifying psychiatric disorders via a biological test is a revolutionary idea for the mental health field and offers potential for new specialty phlebotomy training.
Well, this study has revealed further evidence supporting the importance of collaboration between various fields of medicine. Given the complexity of the conditions that developed over the past few years, team effort for correctly diagnosing and treating patients cannot be stressed enough. In addition, the possibility of discovering illnesses in time and taking the necessary preventive measure via simple blood tests will increase the weight of the phlebotomist in the clinical environment.
At the moment, while they are respected professionals, their expertise and knowledge are sometimes taken for granted by physicians. Nonetheless, as various studies show without the shadow of a doubt that mental conditions, cancer and pre-natal problems can be discovered by phlebotomy procedures – we can say that phlebotomy might be rewriting medical history!