Tags: johns hopkins | suicide | risk | blood | test

Johns Hopkins: Suicide Risk Could Be Determined by Blood Test

By    |   Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 10:49 AM

Johns Hopkins University researchers believe suicide risk in individuals could be determined with a blood test to determine the chemical alteration in a human gene linked to stress reactions, according to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry this week.

The scientists said they identified the gene during research that was recently confirmed in a larger study, according to the website Science Daily. The study suggests that changes in the gene happen when the brain responds to stress hormones and could turn an unremarkable reaction to the strain of everyday life into suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

"Suicide is a major preventable public health problem, but we have been stymied in our prevention efforts because we have no consistent way to predict those who are at increased risk of killing themselves," Zachary Kaminsky, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement. "With a test like ours, we may be able to stem suicide rates by identifying those people and intervening early enough to head off a catastrophe."

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Kaminsky, the study's leader, said his team found that a gene known as SKA2 was the key in making their blood test finding. He said by looking at brain samples from mentally ill and healthy subjects, scientists discovered that in samples from people who had died by suicide, levels of SKA2 were significantly reduced.

The Washington Post reported that scientists then tested blood samples from more than 325 participants in the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention Research study and were able to predict with 80 to 90 percent accuracy whether a person had thoughts of suicide or made an attempt, based on the gene, while accounting for age, gender and levels of stress or anxiety.

Kaminsky said a blood test could be used to make decisions on if a subject needs to be hospitalized or monitored, based on the alternation of the gene.

"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 Kaminsky. "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."

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Johns Hopkins University researchers believe suicide risk in individuals could be determined with a blood test to determine the chemical alteration in a human gene linked to stress reactions.
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2014-49-31
Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 10:49 AM
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