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June 22, 2009

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"In the existing literature of tests of this GxE hypothesis, 13 studies have replicated the finding, using measures collected in face-to-face clinical assessments, and 10 studies failed to replicate the finding, using measures collected via phone or postal questionnaires. "

Without having looked at this in detail, wouldn't such a differnce indicate that clinicians tend to diagnose people carrying the GxE allele as depressed, while the people themselves feel "non-depressed"?

Dear Solti:

I think it may be that many people are more comfortable downplaying disorders like depression when the interview is done impersonally (on the telephone), whereas in-person interviews provide the researcher with a great deal more contextual and other non-verbal cues and other evidence. Most researchers would find the in-person research more reliable for these reasons.

Thanks for the comment.

Dear Kevin,

Interesting tidbit from a purely scientific perspective. I agree with you; I tend to believe that face to face interviews are qualitatively different (more objective) than telephone or written questionnaires, when mental state is at issue - something about a potentially pathologically affected organ evaluating itself for pathologies.

I also note that the filing of patent applications was not mentioned in this case. I think papers describing conflicting results often are as much the result of academic rivalry and the need to "be first" with relatively raw data as anything else. Certainly, it would be worthwhile in such a case to first file provisional applications based on the relatively raw data with an eye to confirming the results after the paper has been submitted (hopefully before the MS is published) and before filing the non-provisional. Obviously even better to confirm the results before submitting the MS for publication at all!

Thanks again.

Dear Carlos:

While I don't know the details, it would surprise me if that isn't just what happened for the patents based on this invention. The problem is that these types of studies take time, and so the inventor is left in the difficult position of filing on what the data tells her now, and hoping it is correct, or going through patent prosecution and having this type of study come out (although as we said in the original piece, it could not have come at a worse time).

My further understanding is that the type of nay-saying over the results found in the Risch study is not new, and that the inventors addressed other negative reports during prosecution. The Risch paper seems the most comprehensive, but as you can see the inventors have a position on the reliability of the Risch analysis.

Ultimately, the 5-HTT promoter polymorphism either will or will not be a predictor of depression risk assessment. Whether there is commercial value in such a claim is another question.

Thanks for the comment.

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