Tel Aviv University researchers are seeking genetic Prozac markers to find a simple test for treating depression.

For 60 percent of people with depression, Prozac is a lifesaving treatment, but in others it can lead to hallucinations and rage. Unfortunately, doctors have been unable to predict the effects of Prozac and similar antidepressants on their patients.

Dr. David Gurwitz and his student Ayelet Morag of Tel Aviv University are developing a new genetic test that will be able to predict the effectiveness of Prozac and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressants.

The new test looks at genetic receptivity to these drugs, providing important information to psychiatrists. “We’ve designed an experiment to search for elements that can determine who will – and who won’t – benefit from drugs such as Prozac,” Dr. Gurwitz says.

If their research is successful, these scientists may be able to provide psychiatrists with a simple genetic test to revolutionize the treatment of depression.

According to Dr. Gurwitz, “the World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2020 costs and lost productivity from depression will exceed those of cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of health expenditure in developed countries.”