Kit to diagnose depression through blood analysis was awarded


A team from the Institute for Health Innovation (i3S), which is developing a kit to diagnose and improve the monitoring of depression through a blood test, won the BfK Ideas for this year 2017.

It was in a press release released this week that i3S explained that BfK Ideas 2017 is an initiative of the Born from Knowledge (BfK) Program for valorisation of scientific and technological knowledge, promoted by the Ministry of Science through the National Innovation Agency, to give visibility to the economic and social impact of investment in scientific research.

This kit is being developed by a team of three researchers from i3S (Maria Inês Almeida, Susana Santos and Inês Alencastre) and two members of the i3S Technology Transfer Unit (Sofia Esteves and Bárbara Macedo). It was also a collaboration between the i3S and a team of psychiatrists of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP).

Since the diagnosis of depression is currently based on clinical interviews and there are no complementary diagnostic tests, the team presented a business idea based on a kit designed to diagnose depression through a simple blood test.

The idea has been developed as part of a collaboration between the i3S group, led by Mário Barbosa, and a team of psychiatrists from FMUP, led by Rui Coelho. Funded by the North 2020 program, this project, called MyRNA Diagnostics, has the collaboration of the Tâmega e Sousa Hospital Center.

“The diagnosis of depression is currently based on clinical interviews. Mental health care providers feel the need to use sensitive and specific methods to improve the percentage of patients with depression (greater than 300 million worldwide) receiving effective treatment (inferred to 50%)”, the team said.

The kit “detects and quantifies a specific panel of molecular biomarkers in a blood sample, which allows a quantitative diagnosis and better monitoring of the disease”. “The results of our product are analyzed by an algorithm and will be provided within 24 to 48 hours after blood collection. The solution allows clinicians to base their therapeutic decisions on a quantifiable biological test, decreasing excessive prescribing, improving diagnostic accuracy and allowing disease monitoring during therapy, “the researchers explain.

For the team, the fact that the project was awarded the first prize of the BfK Ideas 2017 means “a crucial support at this stage of the process to get this product to the market and even those who need it the most, who are the patients”.