Blood test to determine if people are suicidal

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 16:18

Melbourne: Australian scientists will team up with Swedish researchers to develop a blood test that could give results in 24 to 48 hours to doctors to determine if people are suicidal.

Gilles Guilemin from University of New South Wales (UNSW) and his team, who are said to be world leaders on the chemical, had previously demonstrated `quinolinic` acid is involved in several brain diseases, including Alzheimer`s disease, autism and schizophrenia, AAP news agency report said today.

"We now know the mechanism and the molecule involved, so we have to find a simple way of testing it," Guillemin said adding "We think it will take about 12 months to develop a test that could give doctors results in 24 to 48 hours."

"It was said that till date the focus for depression has been on the neurotransmitter serotonin but it has been discovered that severely depressed people have high levels of another neurotransmitter, a chemical called quinolinic acid," he said.

The Australian team has been asked to help a Swedish team which has found that the chemical "was significantly higher in suicide attempters than in healthy controls".

It is being hoped that doctors in future will be able to stop the production of quinolinic acid by using specific enzyme inhibitors to block its production.

The anaesthetic ketamine has been shown to block the receptor used by quinolinic acid and other molecules involved in depression, but there is no practical way of using it at present, the report said.

The working on a study has been aimed for doctors to be able to use the blood results to complement other diagnostic work and it is hoped that such a research will also help with the development of a new generation of anti-depressants.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 16:18

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