More recently, Bahn and her team used a multiplex molecular profiling approach to measure serum concentrations of 181 proteins and small molecules in 250 patients with first- and recent-onset schizophrenia along with 35 who had major depressive disorder (MDD), 32 who had euthymic bipolar disorder, and 45 who had Asperger syndrome. There were 280 control subjects. The results, published in Molecular Psychiatry, demonstrated that a biological signature of schizophrenia can be identified in blood serum, and this can distinguish persons with schizophrenia from healthy controls and from those affected by related psychiatric illnesses that have overlapping symptoms.3
Since VeriPsych’s launch for schizophrenia in the fall of 2010, psychiatrists in a variety of treatment settings have ordered the test for hundreds of psychiatric patients, according to Michael Spain, MD, Myriad RBM’s Chief Medical Officer. The test costs $2500, and Spain said “numerous insurance carriers” are reimbursing for it. For patients without coverage, the company promises to work with them on “a reasonably acceptable financial assistance package.”
Spain said Myriad RBM is now “working on a differential product that would help to diagnose, identify, and discriminate schizophrenia patients from bipolar and unipolar patients.” It is based on the recent research conducted by Bahn’s team that was published in Molecular Psychiatry. Eventually, he added, the company hopes to expand the test’s availability to other countries.
“In the same way that a person with chronically high serum levels of glucose would be identified as diabetic and treated medically, tests like VeriPsych will hopefully allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment of major mental illness, which has been proven to lead to better patient outcomes,” said Spain. “Further, VeriPsych and our products in development help to underline the physiological and biological aspects of major mental illness and may hopefully lead to better understanding and treatment for patients with these disorders.”
Test for depression
In a scientific and clinical report session at the APA’s recent annual meeting, Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at the Uni-versity of Utah School of Medicine and Director of Magnetic Resonance for the Utah Brain Institute, presented clinical data on a multi-analyte blood test developed by Ridge Diagnostics, Inc, to aid in the diagnosis and management of MDD.
Founded in 2006, Ridge Diagnostics is located in San Diego and has its CLIA-certified laboratory in Research Triangle Park, NC, although it is planning for another lab in California. Its products are based on a proprietary Human Biomarker Library and Hyper-Mapping technology. In late 2010, the company began marketing its first-in-class blood test for MDD in Southern California and North Carolina. In the very near future, it plans to expand the test’s commercial availability throughout this country.
The diagnostic test was developed by researchers evaluating a variety of serum-based biomarkers implicated in key physiological processes involving depression. These include representative markers of the neurochemical, metabolic, inflammatory, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis pathways, according to Ridge Diagnostic’s white paper.4
The current test measures 10 biomarkers: a1-antitrypsin, myeloperoxidase, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor II, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, S100B, cortisol, epidermal growth factor, prolactin, resistin, and serum acylation-stimulating protein. The biomarker results are analyzed using a proprietary algorithm to provide a patient result, called an MDDScore. An MDDScore of 1 to 4 suggests a low probability of having depression; 5, a moderate probability; 6 to 9, a high probability.