Zone in with Zon: First-Ever Lab Test to Specifically Diagnose Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

In his latest “Zone in with Zon” blog post, dated May 26, 2015, and published by TriLink BioTechnologies of San Diego, Dr. Gerald Zon tackles the subject of depression and discusses the recent demonstration that a simple RT-PCR test can detect nine biomarkers (mRNA transcripts) that are specifically associated with, and diagnostic for, major depressive disorder (MDD). Furthermore, the test reliably predicts which MDD patients are likely to benefit from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and can also be used to measure biological changes resulting from CBT, thus potentially providing the first measurable, blood-based evidence of CBT’s success or failure. This new RT-PCR test constitutes the first-ever lab test that can specifically identify MDD. FDA approval of this unique new test could come as soon as early 2016, Dr. Zon states. And the need is great, Dr. Zon argues. Depression is a very common illness. The CDC estimates that one in ten U.S. adults suffer from depression, which reportedly costs close to $50B annually in lost productivity in the work place. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages are afflicted with depression, according to recent statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). By the year 2020, the WHO estimates that depression will be the second leading cause of “lost years of healthy life,” following heart disease. Normally, Dr. Zon says, “depression is diagnosed based on a patient’s self-reporting of symptoms and the evaluation of one or more structured psychiatric interviews with the patient by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or primary care physician.
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