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IU researchers develop blood test to predict psychosis risk, most effective treatments

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Posted at 8:32 AM, Feb 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-26 13:52:05-05

INDIANAPOLIS— Researchers at IU School of Medicine say a breakthrough new blood test will help predict and treat schizophrenia.

"This schizophrenia blood test came out of those long term studies that we were doing," said Dr. Alexander Niculescu, a psychiatry professor.

Niculescu has been working on this test for decades. It identifies biomarkers in a person's blood that can objectively measure their current severity and future risk for schizophrenia.

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Niculescu and his team identified biomarkers that were predictive of high hallucinations and high delusions states, as well as future psychiatric hospitalizations related to hallucinations and delusions.

The test can also match patients with the most effective treatments.

"I’m also a psychiatrist and it’s very difficult sometimes to get an idea of what the patient is experiencing because they might not always share appropriately themselves," said Niculescu.

Schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders affect more than three million Americans and manifests itself in a person's late teens and early adulthood.

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"They side track someone having, right in the beginning of prime of their life, a normal life," said Niculescu. "If you identify early that people are starting to have this objectively you don't have to do this trial and error and years of not knowing what's happening you can essentially treat them well and nip things in the bud."

The test should be available later this year on a small scale from the IU spin-out company MindX Sciences. Niculescu said the goal is to get to a point where the test is covered by medicare and insurance companies so everyone has access to it.