The diagnosis of this disease that affects about 24 million people worldwide (an average of 7 per one thousand people) is currently not simple. Since the absence of a single test, physicians rely on evaluations of experts in mental health.
But what if a simple blood test could predict the risk of schizophrenia in a patient? This is the key study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (USA) published findings in the journal.
According to their work, a blood test can determine not only the risk of schizophrenia but also other forms of psychoses such as bipolar disorder, depression or psychotic delusional disorder, allowing patients to obtain treatment earlier and with better results.
To reach this exciting challenge, researchers compared blood samples of 32 patients with symptoms suggesting a high risk of psychosis, with blood samples from 35 controlled subjects without symptoms. Given that previous studies have defined as markers of schizophrenia oxidative stress, metabolism and hormones, experts wanted to see if observing the levels of these markers in both groups would predict who will develop psychosis. The experiment continued with clinical tests every six months for two years. By comparing the results, scientists discovered up to 15 specific blood markers with the ability to accurately identify subjects that later develop psychosis.
Although additional research is needed before this blood test may be clinically available, these results provide evidence about the fundamental nature of schizophrenia, and point to new methods that could be targets for preventive interventions.