A Blood Test for Psychosis? It's here.

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A blood test for 15 measures of immune and hormonal 
system imbalances is predictive of impending psychosis. 
As science and technology progress, it's becoming possible to identify people suffering a psychosis with blood test?  That's a real breakthrough.  Especially for those who suffer. And if the test can be applied (without violating a sufferer's civil rights), it could go a long way to controlling if not eliminating one source of violence in our society.  

Better still, recent advances in treatment show promise for electronically stimulating selected areas of the brain to correct problems such as depression.  Is an effective treatment in the offing?

As with any new technology, there is potential of misuse by employers and government officials, just as there is a potential for helping the millions who suffer some form of psychosis from mild to severe.  As a side note, we can hope a "psychosis" blood test can be made part of the firearm's permitting process.  

For writer's this technology offers another series of plot twists from the police state who uses this sort of test to control society to the personal story of someone identified as pre-psychotic fighting the diagnosis or illness - to just about anything you can imagine.  As a writer, your main tool is your imagination.

Where does this technology go?  In twenty years will science allow us to identify any sort of mental illness through a blood test?  That would take a psychiatrist's opinion out of the equation just as DNA has made identifying perpetrators much more certain.

Here's the report:

A blood test, when used in psychiatric patients experiencing symptoms that are considered to be indicators of a high risk for psychosis, identifies those who later went on to develop psychosis, preliminary results of a new study show. "The blood test included a selection of 15 measures of immune and hormonal system imbalances as well as evidence of oxidative stress," explained a corresponding author of the study.

Psychosis includes hallucinations or delusions that define the development of severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia emerges in late adolescence and early adulthood and affects about 1 in every 100 people. In severe cases, the impact on a young person can be a life compromised, and the burden on family members can be almost as severe.

The study published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin reports preliminary results showing that a blood test, when used in psychiatric patients experiencing symptoms that are considered to be indicators of a high risk for psychosis, identifies those who later went on to develop psychosis.

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"The blood test included a selection of 15 measures of immune and hormonal system imbalances as well as evidence of oxidative stress," said Diana O. Perkins, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine and corresponding author of the study. She is also medical director of UNC's Outreach and Support Intervention Services (OASIS) program for schizophrenia.

"While further research is required before this blood test could be clinically available, these results provide evidence regarding the fundamental nature of schizophrenia, and point towards novel pathways that could be targets for preventative interventions," Perkins said.

Clark D. Jeffries, PhD, bioinformatics scientist at the UNC-based Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), is a co-author of the study, which was conducted as part of the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study (NAPLS), an international effort to understand risk factors and mechanisms for development of psychotic disorders.

"Modern, computer-based methods can readily discover seemingly clear patterns from nonsensical data," said Jeffries. "Added to that, scientific results from studies of complex disorders like schizophrenia can be confounded by many hidden dependencies. Thus, stringent testing is necessary to build a useful classifier. We did that."

The study concludes that the multiplex blood assay, if independently replicated and if integrated with studies of other classes of biomarkers, has the potential to be of high value in the clinical setting.

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Story Source:  Materials provided by University of North Carolina Health Care. D. O. Perkins, C. D. Jeffries, J. Addington, C. E. Bearden, K. S. Cadenhead, T. D. Cannon, B. A. Cornblatt, D. H. Mathalon, T. H. McGlashan, L. J. Seidman, M. T. Tsuang, E. F. Walker, S. W. Woods, R. Heinssen. Towards a Psychosis Risk Blood Diagnostic for Persons Experiencing High-Risk Symptoms: Preliminary Results From the NAPLS Project. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 2014;

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