A blood test to diagnose bipolar disorder? is in progress

An innovation could revolutionize medicine: there would be a blood test that would allow diagnosing bipolar disorder. Progress never stops. On social media, the discovery is attributed to Professor Raoul Belzeaux, currently a psychiatrist at the University Hospital of Montpellier.

For many Internet users, this is impossible. And to tell you the truth, it’s a little bit what we tell ourselves when we hear the news. “Detecting a mental disorder by blood? Truly ? asks one of them. “It’s just bullshit. “Some even dare to make a comparison: “Obviously all Raoul professors are also crossed out. “A reference to our dear Didier Raoult who wanted to cure Covid-19 with hydroxychloroquine. 20 minutes discuss this discovery.

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According to the High Authority for Health, an average of ten long years elapse between the appearance of the first symptoms and the medical diagnosis of bipolar disorder. So, inevitably, a blood test would be much simpler and faster. A blessing for those who suffer from this pathology classified among the 10 most disabling diseases by the World Health Organization. Well, it will soon be the case, because this test is very real.

doctor Raoul Belzeaux, a former psychiatrist at the University Hospitals of Marseille, as well as other researchers and doctors at the FondaMental Foundation, are behind the discovery. “Bipolar disorder is an embarrassing illness, affecting daily life. It can cover different areas such as cognitive faculties – disturbing the memory, attention or executive functions of patients –, sleep, or even manifest itself as excessive fatigue”, explains the foundation.

This delay in diagnosis penalizes patients who cannot benefit from the right treatment or follow-up. “This discrepancy is explained by the lack of knowledge about the disease by doctors, who often associate the symptoms of bipolar disorder with those of depression”, advances the foundation. So much so that, currently, 40% of depressives can actually suffer from bipolarity without being diagnosed, according to estimates. However, “taking antidepressants may even exacerbate the disturbances in a bipolar patient,” say the researchers.

Clinical trials have not yet validated the test

Through a study published in 2021, experts found that bipolarity leaves traces in the blood. They identified blood biomarkers to refine the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. More precisely, the detection and dosage of cytokines in the blood, an inflammatory biomarker, makes it possible to differentiate patients who suffer from bipolar disorder from those who suffer from a depressive disorder. The test is therefore only applicable after a diagnosis of depression has been made by a doctor: it only allows “to discriminate between depression and bipolar disorder”.

For this discovery, Professor Raoul Belzeaux received the Marcel Dassault Innovation Prize 2022. psychiatry at the service of patients. “This award will facilitate the financing of the clinical trial necessary to validate the rapid screening test and develop its industrial exploitation”, further announced the CHU de Montpellier on its website.

The effectiveness of this test has not yet been confirmed by a clinical trial. It is intended to be included in the list of products authorized and reimbursed by health insurance, for the benefit of the patient and our healthcare system.

Another similar test is in the spotlight: that of start-up Aleciag, a biopharmaceutical company based in Hérault. “When the brain malfunctions, it sends signals to the body, as a diseased kidney or liver would,” explains Dinah Weissmann, co-founder of the company, for Ouest-France. The test called Edit-B was developed after ten years of work, and will be commercialized in early 2023 in Italy and Switzerland. This will be the case in France, at an undisclosed rate. Discussions are underway with the health authorities with a view to their eventual reimbursement by Social Security.

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