Bipolar disorder is often a disabling mental illness with a prevalence of 1-2%, a high risk of recurrence of manic and depressive episodes, a lifelong elevated risk of suicide and a substantial heritability.
The course of illness in bipolar disorder is often characterised by progressive shortening of interepisode intervals with each recurrence and with increasing cognitive disabilities during the course of illness. Clinically, diagnostic boundaries between bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders such as unipolar depression are unclear although pharmacological and psychological treatment differs substantially. Patients with bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed and the mean delay between onset and diagnosis is 5-10 years. Although the risk of relapse of depression and mania is high it is for most patients impossible to predict and consequently prevent upcoming episodes in an individual tailored way. The identification of objective biomarkers can both inform bipolar disorder diagnosis and provide biological targets for the development of new and personalized treatments. Accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder in its early stages could help to prevent the long-term detrimental effects of the illness.
We aim within the next years to identify 1) a composite blood-based biomarker, 2) a composite electronic Smartphone-based biomarker and 3) a neurocognitive signature for bipolar disorder. We expect to achieve this ambitious goal by establishing the largest ever long-term bipolar cohort study in the world including 300 patients with newly diagnosed/first episode bipolar disorder, 200 healthy siblings or child family members and 100 healthy individuals without a family history of affective disorder. All individuals will be investigated with repeated blood tests, Smartphone recordings, neuropsychological tests and brain imaging during the five year study period. We expect that the composite blood-based biomarker and the composite Smartphone-based biomarker for bipolar disorder will result in pre-commercial versions within 5-10 years.
All studies are and will be carried out in cooperation with outstanding national and/or international scientific collaborators.