Researchers from King’s College London has announced that they have found a way to test people going through depression that could help them prescribe the right medicine to treat the condition.
The researchers have gone through a study in which about 140 patients were tested through blood extraction to assess their condition, particularly the presence of inflammation.
According to them, patients who have inflammation should go through aggressive therapy.
Lead researcher Prof Carmine Pariante said that the procedure still needs more work and development to ensure that accurate results will be provided, thus, helping doctors prescribe the precise medicine that will shorten the span patients suffer from depression. However, the initial knowledge could serve as a basis of how they could formulate a reliable blood test.
The researchers also added that they need to do the test to a bigger range of patients to identify what will work for the real world.
Based on the new blood test, there are two markers of inflammation present to a patient – the macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and interleukin-1beta.
If one or both of these markers are present, the patient won’t respond to SSRI and tricyclic antidepressants, which are both the most common medicines prescribed.
“About a third of patients might have these inflammatory markers and they would be people we might encourage to go on more aggressive treatment,” Pariante said.
Antidepressants are proven safe, however, they could bring some side effects.
Pariante added, “We would not want to go in prescribing too much medicine if it’s not necessary, but we would want to escalate people sooner rather than later if they need it.”
Severe inflammation, probably caused by the body’s response to stress, could hinder the effects of prescribed medicines. Professor Pariante, together with the team of researchers is also looking at the efficacy of giving anti-inflammatory drugs alongside antidepressants.
Experts asseverate that medications are not the only methods to cure depression.
Pariante cautioned: “Patients should not change their medication on their own or take an anti-inflammatory without guidance from their doctor.”
Jenny Edwards of the Mental Health Foundation said: “If this test is as comprehensive and effective as thought then today’s news could mark a real sea-change in treatment.”