In a ground-breaking study led by scientist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern), a comprehensive set of empirical biomarkers has been established to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of psychosis. To date, the gold standard for diagnosis of psychosis has been clinical observation, classifying patients into schizophrenia, schizoaffective, and bipolar disorders. But in this new study, the Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (B-SNIP) identified three neurobiologically distinct biotypes that do not always match up with the conventional clinical diagnosis. An estimated 6 percent of the U.S. population experiences schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or bipolar disorders. That’s as many as 19 million Americans. “In a sense, we have totally deconstructed and re-thought the basis for diagnosis in psychosis,” said Carol Tamminga, M.D., Chair of Psychiatry and Professor of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern, who leads the consortium. “Building diagnoses based on biology, not just phenomenology, makes it possible for the biological bases of these brain disorders to stand out as molecular targets for disease definition and novel treatments.” The B-SNIP consortium, which also includes Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Georgia, published its findings online today(December 8, 2015) in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
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