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Blood Test Could Diagnose Schizophrenia and Other Disorders

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 22 Feb 2017
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Image: A diagram of the assay to diagnose schizophrenia from a serum sample (Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland).
Image: A diagram of the assay to diagnose schizophrenia from a serum sample (Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland).
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe mental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the adult population in the USA and influences how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. The onset of symptoms usually begins between ages 16 and 30. Symptoms can range from visual and auditory hallucinations and movement disorders to difficulty beginning and sustaining activities.

The diagnosis of schizophrenia and similar disorders requires a thorough psychological evaluation and a comprehensive medical exam to rule out other conditions. A patient may be evaluated for six or more months before receiving a diagnosis and beginning treatment, particularly if he or she shows only early signs of the disorder.

Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed a blood test that could help doctors more quickly diagnose schizophrenia and other disorders. They used a discovery-driven approach based on the assumptions that chemical biomarkers relating to oxidative stress could be found in blood, and that they could be measured by common electrochemical instruments.

The team used performed an initial clinical evaluation using serum from 10 people diagnosed with schizophrenia, a mental health disorder that is increasingly linked to oxidative stress. The scientists used an iridium salt, potassium hexachloroiridate (K2IrCl6), to probe serum for reducing activities that can transfer electrons to iridium and thus generate detectable optical and electrochemical signals. They showed that this Ir-reducing assay can detect various biological reductants and is especially sensitive to glutathione (GSH) compared to alternative assays.

The new testing method was able to correctly differentiate the samples of those who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia from those who had no history of the disorder. Deana L. Kelly PharmD, BCPP, a professor of psychiatry and a co-author of study said, “Much emerging data suggests that schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders may be due, in part, to inflammation and oxidative stress abnormalities. Current methods for measuring these potential biomarkers are not standardized and have many flaws.” The study was published on February 7, 2017, in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

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