May 15, 2007

Blood Test for Schizophrenia Offered

In March we covered the research that found four "unique and statistically significant" subgroups of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients based on their gene expression profiles.

This week the company working on this research - Curidium Medica, based in London, UK, announced that they are developing a blood-based diagnostic test for the different schizophrenia and bipolar disorder subgroups that they believe they have identified. This blood test is, it sounds, targeted more at commercial developers of new drugs, and health care providers (to help them identify the best medication match for a given person), rather than consumers to use themselves. This is the second company we've covered that is working on new blood tests (evaluating gene expression) for diagnostic tests for schizophrenia. The other company is called ChondroGene/GeneNews, based in Montreal, Canada.

The company suggested in its marketing/press release that this is the first time that a schizophrenia diagnostic blood test has been developed that classifies patients into different subgroups that are each associated with distinct underlying disease mechanisms and specific drug targets.

Curidium Medica PLC's diagnostic test is based on the levels of expression of 28 genes in blood samples of schizophrenia/bipolar disorder patients. The test was designed using their Homomatrix technology and gene expression data was applied from blood samples of 115 patient and control donors. The test was subsequently assessed using blood samples from a different group of 32 schizophrenia / bipolar disorder patients in order to determine the test's specificity and sensitivity.

The overall specificity or ability of the test to avoid incorrectly selecting a patient for a subgroup was ninety-four percent (94%). The overall sensitivity, which determines the ability of the test to detect the subjects belonging to a subgroup, was seventy-eight percent (78%).

The Company believes its diagnostic test could potentially lead to the more accurate prescription of marketed products as well as enable the identification and development of better and/or new subgroup specific drug treatments.

The test will potentially benefit to:
1) patients, providing safer and more effective treatments,
2) the pharmaceutical industry, allowing more time and cost effective development of new drugs and
3) healthcare payers, such that the prescription of ineffective treatments may be avoided.

Generally, only a minority of schizophrenia / bipolar disorder patients respond to a drug treatment.

'The development of a blood test improving the accuracy of diagnosis and potential treatment of schizophrenia/bipolar disorder patients represents a significant advance in the treatment of these diseases,' stated Dr. Anne Bruinvels, CEO of Curidium Medica plc. 'This particular test and the application of Homomatrix to psychiatric and other disorders has the potential to support the development of much needed, effective and safe drugs for difficult-to-treat patients.'

Homomatrix is a fully automated analysis tool that uses proprietary pattern recognition tools and sequences of mathematical algorithms together with statistical methods to objectively analyze large sets of gene expression and biological data from heterogeneous populations.

These analyses can potentially lead to the development of diagnostics that identify treatment-responsive patients and/or patient subgroups, signalling pathways as well as drug targets. It is anticipated that Homomatrix(R) could be of significant value in the drug development arena where the 'most likely to respond' patients could be pre-selected to clinical trials.

The global market for antipsychotics, which are used to treat schizophrenia and frequently bipolar affective disorder was valued at $12.5 billion in 2004 and is expected to grow to $20.5 billion by 2009 (The CNS Market Outlook to 2010, Reuters Business Insights, 2005).

For more information: Curidium Medica PLC


You would think that if some different types of "schizophrenia" could be diagnosable via blood tests, and each kind needed different medications, then those types should be removed from the category "mental illness", which by definition is a set of symptoms which cannot be accounted for by any other diagnosable medical condition.

Each type of "schizophrenia" should then have its own unique medical diagnosis.

The ones left with the diagnosis "schizophrenia" should be the ones left over - still unable to be diagnosed with a blood test.

Just an opinion.

Posted by: Naomi at May 17, 2007 12:03 PM


This is early research - so time will tell if this actually holds up as accurate. Regarding your comment that mental illness is a set of symptoms that cannot be accounted for by any other diagnosable medical condition -- I've never heard of that definition before. Most of the researchers I've talked to seem to suggest that mental illness is a disorder of the brain that involves both psychological and biological aspects - and once we do get a measurement system (whether its via blood tests, or fMRI testing,etc. - it will still be a mental illness, and still be a brain disorder that involves both psychological and biological (in fact these are the same thing) aspects. So it seems to me that mental illness will always be a term but that the definition and measurement of it will progress - just as it has with other disorders and diseases.

Just my opinion.

Posted by: szadmin at May 17, 2007 09:46 PM

So many other illnesses can have symptoms that could be diagnosed "schizophrenia" and fall into the "mental" category. Before diagnosing "schizophrenia", the other "medical" conditions which can cause those symptoms need to be "ruled out".

So, those "medical" conditions must first be tested for. Of course, if they are NOT tested for, the doctors diagnose the person with the "mental" disorder. That's how people with Wilson's, Cushings, hypothyroid and other conditions get diagnosed with the "mental" disorder - "schizophrenia" - the symptoms are assumed to be "mental" and the possible underlying "medical" causes are not checked for.

Many things used to get classified as "mental" until we got tests for them. AFTER getting tests for thyroid hormones and other endocrinological, liver, etc. problems we began having "medical" diagnoses and treatments for conditions that used to just get lumped into the "schizophrenia" bucket.

This was one of the things that one person with schizoaffective disorder - when still a child - brought up as disturbing to her. Her diagnosis was based on symptoms - like diagnosing head pain as a "headache". It is one reason that for years many other endocrine system problems she had were not found - because she had the "mental" diagnosis. But she still has the "mental" diagnosis because we don't even have a single diagnosis in either category - "mental" nor "medical" to account for all her symptoms, so the ones affecting her brain and causing some symptoms that fall into the "schizoaffective" bucket result in that diagnosis. IF her symptoms could have been accounted for by one of the "medical" diagnoses, THEN her diagnosis would no longer be "mental". Like moving the person found to have her "mental" diagnosis of "schizophrenia" actually caused by a "medical" diagnosis of hypothyroidism into "medical" care for that condition.

So what I am hoping with all these tests and specific treatments in the future is that we give "medical" names to all these myriad of conditions and treat them as medical conditions. The only illnesses we should call "mental" should be ones that are "emotional" or the result of "personality".

I love the idea of "metabolomics" (other news item) but I hope it will at least test for about 100 different hormones and chemicals (vitamins, minerals, etc) in the blood and urine, and truly individualize treatment because there can be a multitude of endocrinological problems. After all - the brain controls the endocrine system (just as problems further down in the endocrine system can control the brain).


Posted by: Naomi at May 18, 2007 07:25 AM

hi my name is vanessa and I was wondering if u can tell me about the illness that I want to learn about. the illness is parionoid schzophrenia my dad had it and I'm wondering if it went into me.
and I really want to know and plus I've ben expercing some stuff and I don't know wat to do
but I was wondering if u can take a blood test or my doctor can do it and send it to u.
so I hopefully hear from u soon
from vanessa

Posted by: vanessa at May 22, 2007 04:13 PM

i have the same concerns as vanessa, i would really love a blood test that would tell me if i am susceptible or not. i understand that this technology is still in the making but i'd do anything to give it a shot. thanks -chrsitian

Posted by: christian at May 22, 2007 08:44 PM

can u gaive me some comment about mental disorder..............


Posted by: kriza at August 24, 2007 07:45 AM

what can I do to help my 31 year old son? I can't get any info because of the privacy act. What are the most effective meds. What can be done in an inpatient hospital program? Haow does dexterdrine play a role? valium? alcohol? Can they live on their own with support? Any help will be appreciated.

Posted by: emily at September 12, 2007 01:54 PM

is the test for blood for schizophrenia bipolar realiable for accuracy for having the disease or can it exclude it so that it says you don't have the disease, sincerly ctje

Posted by: ctje at March 11, 2008 02:17 PM

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