Scientists at Salk develop tool to gauge success of preferred treatment for bipolar disorder
March 20, 2017, LA JOLLA—For roughly one-third of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, lithium is a miracle drug, effectively treating both their mania and depression. But once someone is diagnosed, it can take up to a year to learn whether that person will be among the 30 percent who respond to lithium or the 70 percent who do not.
Now, scientists at the Salk Institute report a way to predict, with 92 percent accuracy, whether an individual with bipolar disorder will be a lithium responder. The work, which appeared online in Molecular Psychiatry on February 28, 2017, validates the lab’s 2015 discovery of a cellular basis for the disorder and could benefit not only those who will respond to lithium but also the vast majority who will not, sparing them an ineffective treatment.
“What’s remarkable about this system is that you don’t need to use 500 or 600 cells from multiple patients,” says Rusty Gage, a professor in Salk’s Laboratory of Genetics and senior author of the new work. “Five cells from one patient is enough to define whether someone is responsive or nonresponsive to lithium.”
More than five million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, a progressive psychiatric condition that, left untreated, puts sufferers at high risk for suicide. Lithium is the preferred drug to treat the disorder, but it isn’t clear why it works for some people and not others. The Gage team’s previous breakthrough, published in Nature on October 28, 2015, suggested a reason, revealing that the neurons of people with bipolar disorder are more easily stimulated, firing electrical impulses more rapidly than the neurons of people without the disorder. The team found that maintaining some people’s neurons in a lithium-infused medium calmed this hyperexcitability.Read this entire article at: bpHope – bp Magazine Community