Home Bipolar Test Kit

Apparently, some company has produced a home version of the yet unverified bipolar blood test. Obviously, it is in California. News articles are from the AP wire, picked up on Yahoo, Physorg, Mercury News, and others.

The company that produces this test is Psynomics, which was founded by the creator of the bipolar blood test. From what I understand, this test is marginal at best. From the article…

The report that accompanies those results instructs doctors that a positive test means patients are two to three times more likely to have bipolar disorder. But the studies from which those figures come also show the gene variations themselves are rare even among those with bipolar.

The report also points out that for now, the test is valid only for whites of Northern European ancestry who show some behavioral symptoms and have at least one other bipolar family member.

Even in the article, Dr Kelsoe admits that bipolar disorder is probably the result of both genetic AND environmental factors.

On to the numbers – ‘Approximately 15% of bipolar patients will test positive in for GRK3 markers.’

Also from their site:

Limitations
It is important to note that these results were obtained in a population of Caucasians largely of northern European ancestry. Its meaning in other ethnic and racial populations has not yet been tested and is not known.

The frequency of these GRK3 markers has not been established in other diagnostic groups such as schizophrenia or ADHD. Therefore, the GRK3 test should not be used to rule out these or other diagnostic alternatives. The test indicates likelihood of bipolar disorder in comparison to the general population only. As indicated above, it is best applied where there is some reason clinically to suspect bipolar disorder, such as clinical presentation or family history.
A negative test for GRK3 does not rule out bipolar disorder. Many genes likely are involved in the genetic vulnerability to bipolar disorder; GRK3 is just one of them. Other genes may be operating in a patient negative for GRK3 who has bipolar disorder.

I see this as VERY bad news. The blood test is much less accurate than standard clinical diagnoses, but the public perception of it will be exactly the opposite. Even with patients with clinically diagnosed bipolar, the accuracy of this test is only around 15%. If (read when) the results are sent directly back to the person who bought the kit, lots of people are going to think that they got the wrong diagnosis.

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~ by namegoeshere on March 23, 2008.

2 Responses to “Home Bipolar Test Kit”

  1. The idea of testing for mental illnesses at home is just ridiculous

  2. I wouldn’t have a problem with it – IF it was accurate.

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