A blood test to detect bipolar disorder

In France, between 650,000 and 1,600,000 people suffer from bipolar disorder, according to the FondaMental Foundation, which brings together scientists who work to fight against psychiatric disorders. This particularly restrictive disease, which manifests itself by the alternation of euphoric phases and depressive phases, is, today, often badly detected, and badly taken care of. But that could change.

Raoul Belzeaux, professor of psychiatry and researcher at the University Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier (Hérault), has developed, with his team, an innovative device, capable of better detecting bipolarity in a patient. “As the most frequent problem is depression, patients today are often identified as suffering from depression and not from bipolar disorders, confides the psychiatrist to 20 minutes. Between the first symptoms and the correct diagnosis, it often takes about ten years. »

Antidepressants often unsuitable for bipolar disorder

And in the meantime, the disease evolves, unfavorably. And the antidepressants, often prescribed to patients who are thought to be depressed, are unsuitable for the real disorders from which they suffer. For people with bipolarity, antidepressants may be ineffective. “So they take treatment for nothing, points out Raoul Belzeaux. Either the antidepressants are too effective, and they will generate phases of deleterious exaltation, or even, aggravate the depressions, and the risk of suicide. »

Screening, developed by the Montpellier professor’s team, begins with a simple blood test in a laboratory. It is the analysis of cytokines, which ensure the link between cells, which will make it possible to account for possible bipolar disorders. But not only. These measurements will be mixed with other data, thanks to an ingenious artificial intelligence, which is aware of a multitude of medical profiles. The patient’s age, the intensity of the disorders, smoking, etc., must in particular be informed to this algorithm so that it can decide. His diagnosis must, finally, be confirmed by a specialist or general practitioner.

This innovative test still has a long way to go. By 2024, Raoul Belzeaux and his team will have to carry out a battery of tests to demonstrate that this device is a major advance for the detection of bipolarity. To achieve this, the teacher needs funds. On October 13, he received the Marcel Dassault prize for his innovation, with an envelope of around 100,000 euros. “With the FondaMental Foundation, we are looking for sponsors to carry out this project,” says Raoul Belzeaux. The faster we have the means, the faster we will be able to produce a study. »

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