Cambridge Research Aims to Improve Accuracy of Mental Health Diagnosis

New research into improving the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and depression could help improve the lives of millions of people.

Psyomics has received funding from the largest EU Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020 in recognition of potential success.

This funding will help support the scientific development of an online screening system and research into biomarkers which will help diagnose people with specific mental health issues.

Co-founder of Psyomics Daniel Cowell said:

“Horizon 2020 only funds joint research and innovation projects, with an emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

“This award recognises the potential in our research to improve the lives of people with mental health issues, through differential diagnosis of bipolar disorder patient and major depressive disorder.”

Neuropsychiatric disorders contribute 13% to the global burden of disease and 50% of sufferers don’t receive appropriate treatment. The total European cost of brain disorders was estimated to be 798bn EUR in 20107, with mood disorders, including major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, contributing 113bn EUR. The specific problem that this project aims to address is the misdiagnosis of BD as MDD.

Presently, around 40% of bipolar disorder patients are misdiagnosed as having and the average time until a correct diagnosis is achieved is 7.5 years 6, 11, 12. When a bipolar disorder patient is misdiagnosed with major depressive disorder, they are more likely to receive antidepressant monotherapy and less likely to receive mood stabilisers. Misdiagnosis has therefore been associated with a 3-fold increase in the rate of suicide attempts, an increased risk of anti-depressant induced mania and rapid cycling, and significantly greater healthcare costs due to higher rates of hospitalisation. It is therefore clear that there is a significant unmet need for diagnostics utilising objective biomarkers to assist Psychiatrists and GPs in differential diagnosis.

About Psyomics

Psyomics was founded in March 2015 by Professor Sabine Bahn of the University of Cambridge and Dan Cowell, CEO, with the aim of improving the speed and accuracy of the identification and diagnosis of mental health challenges.

Mental health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK and the wider economic costs in England have been estimated at £105.2 billion each year. This includes direct costs of services, lost productivity at work and reduced quality of life.

Working closely with the Cambridge Centre for Neuropsychiatric Research led by Professor Bahn, the mission is to develop digital tools and, for some challenges, biological tests that can be used to develop a comprehensive understanding of an individual in complete confidence, and then combined with an up-to-date record of scientific research, point the user towards sources of help and support, and treatment options available.

The team is currently working on a range of tools for prevention and early detection in the workplace, diagnosis of depression and bipolar in a clinical setting, and triage tools to be used in primary care.

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