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Antidepressant Drug Test

January 10, 2012

A blood test reveals how well a patient may respond to a particular antidepressant.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Predicting antidepressant success.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Antidepressants can take weeks to work, and it often takes several tries to find the right one.  But psychiatrist Angelos Halaris of Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois may be on to a shortcut.   His team found that patients with higher levels of a blood protein called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, responded better to an antidepressant called escitalopram.

ANGELOS HALARIS

Those with the higher levels at baseline were the ones who had the best response to treatment, as contrasted by those who had the lowest levels, who didn’t respond to treatment.

HIRSHON:

In fact, high starting VEGF levels predicted a good response to escitalopram with 85 percent accuracy.  That suggests a simple blood test could predict whether this particular drug would be worth a try.  The question now is whether VEGF, or other blood markers, could predict the success of other antidepressants as well.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.