February 21, 2024

A new blood test would objectively determine psychosis risk and best treatments

The test builds off of two decades of research on blood biomarkers for other psychiatric disorders. - FILE PHOTO: WFYI

The test builds off of two decades of research on blood biomarkers for other psychiatric disorders.

FILE PHOTO: WFYI

Researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine have developed a blood test for people with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.

The test identifies biomarkers in a patient’s blood that measure the current severity, and future risk, of psychosis. It also can predict which medications might work well for that patient.

The blood test is a game changer in treating schizophrenia, lead researcher and psychiatry professor Dr. Alexander Niculescu said.

“It’s sort of a one-two combination,” Niculescu said. “First of all, [it] helps doctors assess somebody objectively, not just by talking to them. And then secondly, help them choose from a list of options: What medication might be a best fit for that patient so that we don't have this whole trial and error process.”

Niculescu said typically, it can take years before a patient finds a medication that works for them.

“That period is very distressing to the person, to their family,” he said. “So we want to get away from that type of approach and have some objective matching from the beginning.”

The test builds off of two decades of research on blood biomarkers for other psychiatric disorders. Niculescu hopes the blood tests will one day be part of routine care.

Studies estimate that in the U.S. between 15 and 100 people out of every 100,000 develop psychosis every year. It often starts in the late teen years or mid-20s. But people can experience psychotic episodes at any age due to other illnesses.

“If you get them diagnosed early on, on the right treatment, on the right track, they’ll not only have a successful and satisfied life, but they'll also be able to contribute to society,” he said. “So it will be a win-win-win across the board, as opposed to the current lose-lose-lose.”

The test is expected to be available later this year from Indiana University spin-out company MindX Sciences. Niculescu, a co-founder of MindX Sciences, said the next step is to get the test approved by insurers so it is more widely accessible.

Contact WFYI health reporter Darian Benson at dbenson@wfyi.org.

 

Support independent journalism today. You rely on WFYI to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Donate to power our nonprofit reporting today. Give now.

 

Related News

Free condoms, Plan B pills and Narcan provided at new vending machine on near east side
Indiana hospital receives 'high performing' designation for maternal outcomes among Black patients
Lawmakers in some states say they want to protect IVF services. But how can they do that effectively?