New schizophrenia biomarker test sparks controversy

Rules-Based Medicine has reached a major milestone with the commercial release of VeriPsych, a diagnostic test that looks at a complex array of 51 biomarkers to help physicians come up with a diagnosis of early-stage schizophrenia. But the test, the first blood-based tool of its type, has triggered a sharp debate among the experts about its accuracy and usefulness.

Based on 10 years of research originally undertaken at Cambridge University and later out-licensed to a subsidiary of the Austin-based diagnostics group, the test is sold for $2,500 and a recent study pegged its accuracy rate at 83 percent. It's intended to give psychiatrists and objective method for identifying patients and beginning treatment--to be used in conjunction with analysis--but there's no shortage of skeptics in the field.

"Unfortunately, the science is not there yet," UC San Diego's Dr. Gregory Light tells the Austin American-Statesman. "Blood-based tests, at the moment, are far away from being useful for an individual patient. Most patients and families would prefer such a test that would yield easy, objective answers. Unfortunately, we do not have this yet."

CEO Craig Benson counters: "Diagnosing this illness is currently a subjective matter, and we think that providing an objective tool to assist the clinician will help bring about an earlier and more accurate diagnosis."

- here's the article from the Austin American-Statesman