STRUGGLING with DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, or BIPOLARITY? LEARNING can really HELP. Start with ARTICLES above or Topics below. Ty! Bill

Just Another Teachin’ Tuesday: Bipolar Research & A Med

New developments in research, as well as medications, are so relevant. Let’s have a look at two pieces of information especially meaningful to those enduring bipolar disorder.

The Pharmacogenomics of Lithium In The Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $6.5 million to an international team to study the pharmacogenomics of lithium. The five-year study will be led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Pharmacogenomics? I think all $6.5 million will go toward the word alone. Actually, it’s the branch of pharmacology that studies the influence of genetic variation on drug response. Pretty cool stuff. Its mission is to develop practical ways of optimizing drug therapy with the fewest adverse effects.

In doing so, pharmacogenomics takes into account the patient’s genotypye, which is at the very foundation of an incredibly hopeful medical model known as personalized medicine.

If you’re taking meds for depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder; you know why the work is so important. We all now by now that finding a med(s) that works – without turning us into a physically ill and motionless zombie – is a long and drawn-out crap-shoot. And in my opinion, this especially applies to our bipolar friends.

Finally, how ’bout this? Incorporating pharmacogenomics, the hope is that one day a saliva sample will be used to reveal our genetic markers. And that information will predict how we’ll react to a particular med. What a boost in finding the med(s) that will work best for what ails us.

Saphris (asenapine)

Saphris (asenapine) was introduced a year ago by Merck; and was FDA approved for the treatment of acute adult schizophrenia, as well as acute bipolar I manic and mixed episodes. Well now it wears two more hats. It’s been approved by the FDA for the ongoing treatment of adult schizophrenia, as well as adjunctive therapy – with either lithium or valproate (Depakote) – in the treatment of acute bipolar I manic or mixed episodes.

Saphris is an atypical antipsychotic, unique because it’s a sublingual (under the tongue) tablet. Initial results indicate it has minimal anticholinergic (blocking the effects of acetylcholine; resulting in potential inhibition of the functioning of the heart, blood vessels, airway, and organs of the urinary and digestive tracts) impact. Cardiovascular and weight-gain issues have been minimized, as well.

So there you have two pieces of interesting news on Just Another Teachin’ Tuesday. I enjoy discovering this stuff, and enjoy all the more sharing it with you. It’s so important that we stay current, don’t you think?

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  • jeannieg84

    Hi Bill. I know this is an old post, but I’m new to your site and just trying to get myself educated on Bipolar II. I just wanted to share my report on Saphris. I have really never had a manic episode, but have had way increased anxiety and agitation in response to SSRIs; therefore my new psychiatrist has been treating me for Bipolar II. It’s a new world for me; I thought I was pretty well informed about depression and anxiety, but Bipolar II is a whole new ballgame. My main symptom has always been depression. With that said, I would like to share that my psychiatrist started me on Saphris 3 weeks ago and it has made a huge difference in my depression. I was at the point where I was going to cancel a visit from my best friend in the world, whom I only see twice a year, because I just couldn’t get up the oomph to prepare for her visit. I responded very quickly to this med – it was almost too good to be true. We increased the dose after four days but I may end up going back to a lower dose. My biggest complaint is the sedated yet agitated feeling I have for about an hour after taking it. I hope this med continues to work for me. I am afraid to trust how much better I feel! I’m curious about what I’ve read about this drug treating acute manic episodes, and I am not schizophrenic. I would assume treating acute mania would mean a decrease in energy but it really helps my depression and gives me more energy.

    • Hi jg84 – and welcome back. Glad you’re making the rounds, even to these oldie-but-goodie articles. Thing is, though, when they receive new comments like yours, they freshen-up quite a bit. So thank you.

      Your information on Saphris is really helpful and I’m glad it’s working well for you. Hey, who cares about the primary disorders for which a med is prescribed? Off-label applications happen all the time. If it works, it works – as long as side effects don’t become an issue.

      You know, it’s interesting – I put aside strict adherence to the Bipolar I, II, cyclothymia thing some time ago. For my money we’re really dealing with a mood spectrum, and there’s a place along it for each of us. If you haven’t already, check-out the work of Dr. Jim Phelps at

      Thanks for stopping-by, jg84. Don’t be a stranger…