There is no blood test, to date, that can diagnose Bipolar Disorder. However, in the science magazine 'New Scientist,' it was reported in the February 5, 2005 issue that a new blood test was being developed in a genetics journal, the American Journal of Medical Genetics.

Blood testing research early results suggested a ninety-five to ninety-seven percent level of accuracy, which could help potentially in early detection and even prevention of Bipolar Disorder. However, this was just one test and it was only on a small group of people, so it still remains to be seen if it will prove to be effective when this study is validated by an independent group of researchers and in a larger sample size.

The blood test, as revealed in the early research, also measured the gene activity, which could accurately detect mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, as their small trial suggested.

In the blood, whenever a gene is active, RNA molecules are produced and, by measuring levels of these RNA molecules in the blood, healthy people were able to be distinguished from people with Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses.

The use of blood-derived RNA in research to find a way to develop a blood test to diagnose Bipolar Disorder in patients is still underway. There is a paper entitled 'Assessing the Validity of Blood-Based Gene Expression Profiles for the Classification of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder: A preliminary Report' that is available to read online on the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics' website at: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/109865056/ABSTRACT.

Blood-based gene expression research on Bipolar Disorder is, in part, sponsored by a company called 'ChrondroGene'. This company is focused on applying functional gene activity to enable early diagnosis and personalized therapeutic intervention based on disease-specific biomarkers.

Dr. Marshall, President and CEO of ChondroGene, has stated, 'At present there are no tests that can effectively diagnose psychiatric disorders early in their evolution. Using current methods, it can take months or even years to make a definitive diagnosis. Application of ChondroGene's Sentinel Principle to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder has generated unique blood-based molecular signatures for each disease. These molecular signatures can be used to develop disease-specific biomarkers that will enable earlier diagnosis and more timely treatment of these devastating disorders.'

ChondroGene's Chairman and Managing Director of Balfour LLC, Rory Riggs, stated, 'The Sentinel Principle is an extremely powerful tool that can provide a snapshot of what is happening throughout the body from a simple blood sample. So far ChondroGene has applied the Sentinel Principle to over fifty different diseases with very promising results.'

In blood associated with a specific disease, the Sentinel Principle is used to identify unique molecular signatures. These molecular signatures are then used to identify blood-based biomarkers that can be used for disease-specific diagnostic tests. Hopefully, if this research continues to be successful, there will be a time in the future that Bipolar Disorder will be able to be diagnosed from a simple blood sample.

Blood test studies to diagnose Bipolar Disorder and its early detection (and, hopefully, even prevention) in larger psychiatric populations are ongoing. Still, at the present time, there are no definitive blood tests to determine whether a patient has Bipolar Disorder, and diagnosis must still be made based on a patient’s history and symptoms individually.