A groundbreaking discovery which could change the lives of millions of bipolar sufferers forever has been announced.
The London Psychiatry Centre – which operates a clinic in the North East in partnership with Newcastle Premier Health – unveiled the exciting discovery in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday.
Applying a concept known as ‘precision medicine’, the breakthrough effectively predicts and targets the treatment of patients based on their genetic profile.
Centre representatives unveiled the discovery and findings from 20 cases – with type 2 and subthreshold bipolar disorder – in patients who have four or more mood changes in a year (rapid cycling). These conditions worsen with the use of antidepressants.
But the concept of precision medicine used a combination of rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) and high dose of thyroid hormone, alongside targeted genetic testing for thyroid activating enzymes which ensures the patient suffers minimal, if any side effects.
Precision medicine is when genetic testing is used to guide treatment and is currently being delivered in the treatment of some cancers.
But this is the first time the technique has been successfully administered in mental health and specifically in bipolar disorder, and there is a belief it could signal a worldwide change in how millions of bipolar disorder sufferers are medically treated in the future.
Mark Philpott, managing director at Newcastle Premier Health, said: “This could be revolutionary in how people are treated, and that’s not just limited to the North East and the UK.
“There’s every possibility this can have a global impact.”
The London Psychiatry Centre team found through genetic testing that more than 90% of the bipolar cases randomly and consecutively tested have a deficiency of one, two or both enzymes needed to activate thyroid hormone in the brain and the body.
The centre pioneered the effective combination of rTMS and high dose thyroid hormone to specifically target in those sufferers who lack the activating enzymes Deiodinase 1 and Deiodinase 2.
These patients are unable to activate normal doses of thyroid hormone.
The team found that as a result, they can be treated with minimal or no side effects with high dose thyroid and rTMS, but some may need one additional drug as opposed to the usual requirement of a standard of 3 to 4 drugs which, as a rule, cause significant side effects.
Patients who had the combination of rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) and high dose thyroid combination saw their condition recover fully after years of unsuccessful treatment with drugs, with the age ranges of patients being between 15 and 80-years-old.
This effective new process also displays generally a lack of or minimal side effects.
Dr Andy Zamar, consultant psychiatrist, said: “We believe we have cracked it!
“This game-changing discovery is the result of more than a decade of work involving the treatment of nearly 400 people with genetic tests carried out in over 100 of these patients.
“We hope our findings result in a global transformation of how millions of people are treated for this debilitating illness and signals a reduction in their required medication and side effects.”
A large study conducted by the World Health Organisation in May 2008 found that in 15 countries bipolar disorder was 2-3 times more disabling than cancer, heart disease and arthritis.
Subthreshold and type 2 bipolar disorders carries a high depression burden, a significant suicide rate, and divorce rates of up to 90%.