The use of a biological marker to identify someone as ill prior to the onset of clinically detectable symptoms carries enormous responsibility when the illness is expected to be serious and not amenable
to a curative treatment. Even if the marker has high validity, examination of individual persons for its presence would be ethically problematic. When the marker has lower validity Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical the ethical problem would seem to be increased. Specifically, labeling of a child as a future schizophrenic based on our present understanding of the biology of the illness seems unconscionable. Nevertheless, biological markers may indicate the presence of a pathophysiological process that can be sellectchem addressed with a preventive treatment. Therefore, Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical the identification of biomarkers prior to onset of psychosis has enormous potential importance for the design of future preventive strategies. The success of preventive treatments such as prenatal
folic acid supplementation for a wide variety Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical of conditions, including cleft palate and neural tube defects, suggests that early intervention may be surprisingly effective and often relatively benign, so that prevention could be applied to individuals for whom there is little certainty that they would have disease in the future. Thus, a paradox is that identification of biomarkers for predictive purposes, which may be unethical, does not preclude their ethical use for the design of prevention strategies. Most cases of schizophrenia Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical occur during late adolescence and early adulthood. Although there is often a prodrome during which signs of illness
are present, most individuals who develop schizophrenia have had some period, generally from childhood through early adolescence, during which they did not have enough symptoms to be declared ill.1 The question relevant to the search for early biomarkers is whether Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical the neurobiological substrates of illness are already present, perhaps from birth, and only awaiting adolescence to become manifest as a clinical behavioral syndrome or whether adolescence itself somehow causes the illness. Anacetrapib Despite the profound biological table 5 change that accompanies adolescence, mental illness stands out as the only major category of illness that occurs during the transition into adulthood. Therefore, one goal for the investigation of biomarkers is to use them to establish when during development the pathophysiological defects associated with schizophrenia first occur, so that the appropriate window of time for intervention can be identified. The emphasis on the genetic basis of schizophrenia and other major mental disorders suggests that a similar emphasis on genetic factors should influence the search for early biomarkers for psychosis.