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Blood Test Roundup

March 30, 2007

Blood tests that could reveal who’s at risk for mental health conditions are raising ethical concerns.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
A blood test for mental disorders. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Genetic blood tests already can help doctors predict a person’s risk of developing a variety of disorders, from Huntington’s disease to cancer. But researchers at the University of Iowa are developing genetic tests for mental conditions, like panic attacks or even alcoholism. The tests don’t tell you that you will definitely get the condition, only that you are more susceptible than most people. While the benefits of warning people about these risks early are obvious, there are also ethical concerns about labeling people as future candidates for mental health problems.

In less controversial blood test news, scientists at Temple University have developed a test that could spot repetitive stress inflammation. The test could help doctors diagnose and treat the problem before there is any pain or joint damage.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.