Biomarkers Outperform Symptoms in Parsing Psychosis Subgroups

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Three biomarker-based categories, called biotypes, outperformed traditional diagnoses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with psychosis, in sorting psychosis cases into distinct subgroups on the basis of brain biology, report researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. A hallmark of severe mental illness, psychosis is marked by hallucinations and delusions, or false, irrational beliefs.

“The biotypes were more biologically homogeneous than categories based on observable symptoms,” explained Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., acting director of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which funded the study. “Just as fever or infection can have many different causes, multiple psychosis-causing disease processes – operating via different biological pathways – can lead to similar symptoms, confounding the search for better care.”

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