Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science in Japan, have been successful in finding a biomarker for schizophrenia inside human hair. The researchers while working with postmortem human brains, people suffering from schizophrenia, and model mice could discover the biomarker. The study found that a specific subtype of schizophrenia is in connection with unusually high levels of hydrogen sulfide in the brain.
Subsequent studies show that this abnormality is a possible outcome of a DNA modifying reaction. This reaction occurs at the time of the development of the brain and can last throughout human life. This discovery opens a door in a completely new direction for further studies in drug therapies. It also suggests that such abnormal hydrogen sulfide levels can produce a certain enzyme. This enzyme can act as a biomarker for this particular type of schizophrenia.
Opening Door for Future Research and Developments
Scientists are always looking for objective and reliable biomarkers for the diagnosis of disorders of the brain. Particularly in the case of schizophrenia, it is a common knowledge that biomarker has some connection with an abnormal startle reaction. Generally, we are not much surprised by a burst of noise, if a smaller burst occurs first. This smaller burst of noise is known as prepulse. The overall phenomenon is termed as prepulse inhibition or simply PPI.
People suffering from schizophrenia have lower PPI. It means that their startle response is not so low as much as it should be after the occurrence of prepulse. This PPI test can turn out to be a great behavioral marker for the identification of the disorder. However, it cannot directly guide us in understanding the biology or exact reason behind the disorder. Nonetheless, it can certainly act as a perfect starting point to can lead the way for future discoveries.