IU researchers make medical “breakthrough” with anxiety blood test

(Photo supplied/Indiana University)
A new blood test developed at the Indiana University School of Medicine
may shake up how doctors treat patients who suffer from anxiety disorders.
It took two decades to crack the code, but it now appears researchers can objectively diagnose anxiety through a simple blood test. The discovery offers peace of mind to some and takes away guesswork in treating more than 40 million Americans who struggle with the mental health disorder.
Dr. Alexander Niculescu, professor of psychiatry at Indiana University, said the new approach also helps match patients with existing medications.
“The big breakthrough here is not just developing the test, but in some way demystifying these stigmatizing mental health challenges; mild biological abnormalities or not so mild,” Niculescu explained. “They are correctable, this can be in a primary care setting as part of your annual exam.”
Niculescu added the test is available today with an order from a doctor, and results are usually returned after about three weeks.
Right now patients are responsible for the cost of the anxiety blood test, according to Niculescu, but there is a strong effort underway for Medicare and insurance companies to cover costs within the next year or two.
“Anxiety is usually viewed sort of not on par with other major severe mental health illnesses,” Niculescu pointed out. “But if you ask patients who suffer from anxiety disorders it’s as impairing. It curtails their lives; they’re limited in terms of what they can do, and we want to do something to help them.”
The I-U School of Medicine researchers who developed the test have spun it off with an Indianapolis-based tech startup, MindX Sciences.

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