The validation of biomarkers that can track early disease changes specifically correlated to reversal or progression of mental disorders is crucial for intervention. Used as predictors, these biomarkers can help to identify high risk individuals and disease sub-groups who could serve as target populations for drug-intervention trials. Given that biomarkers act as surrogate endpoints, they have the potential for assessing the efficacy and cost effectiveness of preventative interventions at a speed which is not possible when symptoms of the manifested mental disorder are used as the endpoint. These biomarkers are also useful in the preclinical setting for both the development and validation of preclinical disease models.
We have established proof of concept for our approach, having already identified biomarkers in patient serum and cerebrospinal fluid as well as disease-associated protein and metabolite signatures in human brain. Once putative biomarkers in accessible fluids have been identified, polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies can be raised against them and used for development of immunoassays or sensor technologies. Another validation method that we employ extensively is SRM (Selective Reaction Monitoring) mass spectrometry, which allows targeted quantification of protein expression in a complex sample, such as blood serum.