From Science Daily:

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.”

The results lend support to the institute’s Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDoC) initiative, which frees scientists from designing research based on traditional diagnostic categories, encouraging them to explore groupings based on genomics, behavioral dimensions, physiological traits, or brain imaging findings. More precise diagnosis is expected to lead to improved treatments.

NIMH-funded researchers Carol Tamminga, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Brett Clementz, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia, Athens; and colleagues at other research centers, report on their multi-site study on Dec. 8, 2015 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The new findings come from a project called The Bipolar Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (BSNIP). They add to increasing evidence of biological overlap between traditional, symptom-based diagnostic categories for disorders in which patients experience psychotic symptoms. The BSNIP…

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