Blood Test for Suicide?   Leave a comment

blood test sui

 

Researchers have identified a chemical alteration in a gene linked with suicide and believe the finding is a key step toward a blood test that could reliably predict a patient’s suicide risk.

“We have found a gene that we think could be really important for consistently identifying a range of behaviors from suicidal thoughts to attempts to completions,” said lead researcher Zachary Kaminsky, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. “We need to study this in a larger sample, but we believe that we might be able to monitor the blood to identify those at risk of suicide.”

In the July 30 online American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Kaminsky and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University report on a mutation in the SKA2 gene they found in people who died by suicide. Linked to stress reactions, SKA2 is expressed in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and involved in cortisol suppression.

When researchers compared brain samples from people who were mentally ill and people who were healthy, they found significantly reduced levels of SKA2 in people who had committed suicide. In a subset of subjects who died by suicide, researchers also found an epigenetic modification that caused higher levels of methylation at SKA2.

Based on the findings, they designed a model analysis to predict which participants had thought about or attempted suicide: its accuracy rate was 80%. Among people with more severe risk of suicide, the test’s accuracy rate jumped to 90%.

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