A study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers represents an important step forward in the accurate diagnosis of people who are experiencing the earliest stages of psychosis. Psychosis includes hallucinations or delusions that define the development of severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, which emerges in late adolescence and early adulthood.
The study published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin reports preliminary results showing that a blood test, when used in psychiatric patients experiencing symptoms that are considered to be indicators of a high risk for psychosis, identifies those who later go on to develop psychosis.
“The blood test included a selection of 15 measures of immune and hormonal system imbalances as well as evidence of oxidative stress,” says Diana O. Perkins, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine and corresponding author of the study. “While further research is required before this blood test could be clinically available, these results provide evidence regarding the fundamental nature of schizophrenia, and point towards novel pathways that could be targets for preventative interventions,” Perkins says.
Clark D. Jeffries, PhD, bioinformatics scientist at the UNC-based Renaissance Computing Institute, is a co-author of the study. “Modern, computer-based methods can readily discover seemingly clear patterns from data,” says Jeffries. “Added to that, scientific results from studies of complex disorders like schizophrenia can be confounded by many hidden dependencies. Thus, stringent testing is necessary to build a useful classifier.”
The study concludes that the multiplex blood assay, if independently replicated and integrated with studies of other classes of biomarkers, has the potential to be of high value in the clinical setting. Read the study.Read more