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Scholars find way to predict bipolar drug success in Asia

TAIPEI -- Taiwanese researchers have found genetic markers that can accurately predict if the mainstream drug for bipolar disorder is effective in Asian patients, Taiwan's top research institute said Wednesday.

Academia Sinica said the findings by a team of researchers, led by the institute's Andrew Cheng and Chen Yuan-tsong, could help save the lives of suicide-prone patients, as doctors would be alerted early on to the need for alternative drugs.

The study, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 9, found three genetic biomarkers that can predict patients' response to lithium, the primary medication for bipolar disorder, the institute said in a statement.

Lithium, however, does not work in all bipolar patients, who often suffer recurrent episodes of mania and 15 percent of whom commit suicide, Academia Sinica said.

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