Bahn, who also spoke to Psychiatry Advisor prior to her presentation at the symposium on proteomics biomarker studies, added that the research indicates schizophrenia is more than just a brain disease.

“These alterations remain mainly in proteins involved with immune function, metabolic function and some other pathways,” she said. Also, these abnormalities were seen in prodromal schizophrenia, when patients have some symptoms of the disease but have yet to be diagnosed.


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“This presents the potential possibility to identify patients really early on in the disease process and maybe even then to start interventions which may be useful in preventing the full-blown psychiatric disease,” Bahn noted.

Another benefit to clinicians of biomarker testing is that it can provide an objective test to diagnose a psychiatric disease. Bahn cites as an example of a patient who doesn’t admit to hearing voices or having hallucinations during an interview, perhaps because of stigma. As a result, it is difficult to make a clear diagnosis.

While biomarker tests would not replace the psychiatric interview, it could provide confirmation of a diagnosis.

“Increasing identification of all these metabolic as well as inflammatory changes in people with psychiatric disorders may [also] tell us something about the cause of these diseases, particularly these inflammatory changes that have already,” been seen in some clinical trial,” Bahn said, adding that anti-inflammatory drugs have shown some promise in treating schizophrenia some research.

“It’s important to consider these are not just brain diseases — they may actually be systemic diseases in that it may not be just one disease but rather an umbrella term of schizophrenia, and that several causes may be hiding which we may have to treat differently,” she added.

References

Malhotra A. Pharmacogenetics: Using Genetic Information to Enhance Treatment. Presentation at: APA 2015. May 16-20, 2015; Toronto, Canada.

Bahn S. The Potential of Proteomics Biomarker Studies for Psychiatric Disorders. Presentation at: APA 2015. May 16-20, 2015; Toronto, Canada.