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UCLA researchers develop biomarker for rapid relief of major depression
Date:9/10/2009

It is a long, slow slog to treat major depression. Many antidepressant medications are available, but no single biomarker or diagnostic test exists to predict which one is right for an individual. As a result, for more than half of all patients, the first drug prescribed doesn't work, and it can take months to figure out what does.

Now, based on the final results of a nationwide study led by UCLA, clinicians may be able to accurately predict within a week whether a particular drug will be effective by using a non-invasive test that takes less than 15 minutes to administer. The test will allow physicians to quickly switch patients to a more effective treatment, if necessary.

The study, called the Biomarkers for Rapid Identification of Treatment Effectiveness in Major Depression, or BRITE-MD, measured changes in brain-wave patterns using quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG), a non-invasive, computerized measurement that recognizes specific alterations in brain-wave activity. These changes precede improvement in mood by many weeks and appear to serve as a biomarker that accurately predicts how effective a given medication will be. The study results appear in two articles published in the September issue of the journal Psychiatry Research.

Nine sites around the country collaborated on the study, which enrolled a total of 375 people who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). Each individual was given a baseline QEEG at the beginning of the trial and then prescribed the antidepressant escitalopram, commonly known as Lexapro, one of a class of drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors that are commonly prescribed for depression. After one week, a second QEEG was taken. The researchers examined a biomarker called the antidepressant treatment response (ATR) index a specific change in brain-wave patterns from the baseline QEEG.

Subjects were then randomly assigned to continue with escit
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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