Early schizophrenia diagnosis and treatment is directly linked to better outcomes for patients with the disease. However, there has been a long standing inability to properly achieve an early diagnosis. This is largely due to the fact that the diagnostic factors that are evaluated as early signs of schizophrenia (ie: disturbed perception and thought processes) are present in many patients who will not actually develop schizophrenia.
In direct response to this ongoing issue within the medical community, Sabine Bahn, M.D., Ph.D., published a paper addressing a biomarker test that is blood based, that can be used in conjunction with the a patient’s clinical assessment scores, to give a more accurate prediction of whether or not schizophrenia was a possibility. The blood test combined with the clinical assessment score have been shown to create a prediction with 90% accuracy.
Dr. Bahn’s team worked with drug-naive schizophrenia patients, and screened for biomarkers that included the immune system, hormonal signaling, and inflammation. They compared the schizophrenia patients’ serum proteins to their control group, and were able to determine that which biomarkers were significantly changed between the two test groups.
Dr. Bahn was quoted saying
“Our findings support previous work that suggests immune-related and metabolic changes in blood are associated with schizophrenia,” Bahn said. “The fact that such changes can be observed in individuals who as of yet have not developed schizophrenia supports the notion that these changes are linked to pathology.”
Despite the 90% accuracy in predicting future schizophrenia, the same blood test only had a 53% accuracy when screening for bipolar disorder. This finding makes the powerful suggestion that this test can differentiate between the two diseases before symptoms begin to present themselves.
Cheryl Corocran, M.D. and Diana Perkins, M.D., M.P.H, who were not a part of the study both agree that this blood test holds a great deal of promise for the medical industry. Corcoran stated that “Finding that kind of specificity for the prediction of schizophrenia is powerful” and Perkins agrees. The blood test suggests that a pattern where schizophrenia is [suggested to be] disrupting the immune system and hormone regulation. The test is not yet ready for use in general practice, but is opening up many more structure opportunities to more accurately test for schizophrenia in the near future.
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