September 16, 2020
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NIH announces public-private partnership to advance schizophrenia biomarker research

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The NIH this week announced the launch of Accelerating Medicine Partnership Schizophrenia, according to an institutional press release.

The NIH and FDA, along with seven industry and nonprofit partners, aim to improve early therapeutic interventions and targeted treatments for schizophrenia with this initiative. Goals of the partnership include conducting research into biological markers to identify people at risk for developing schizophrenia, tracking outcomes like symptom progression and defining targets for treatment development.

“We know that with most brain diseases, early interventions before the onset of symptoms improve long-term outcomes,” Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the NIH, said in the release. “Through research, we’ve identified clinical and biological markers for schizophrenia, but we need to translate this knowledge into early interventions to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people at risk for this debilitating disease. AMP Schizophrenia aims to be that bridge.”

A better understanding of early stages of risk could predict a patient’s likelihood of progression to psychosis and enable clinical trials to test pharmacologic interventions for preventing the onset of psychosis, per the NIH release.

To further the project’s goal of enabling research, all data and analyses will be publicly available on the NIMH Data Archive.

The partnership’s total funding over a 5-year period is anticipated to include $82.5 million from the NIH, $7.5 million from industry partners and $9 million from nonprofit partners. Industry and nonprofit partners include the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF).

“Schizophrenia is a complex, sometimes debilitating, disorder that affects 1 percent of the population,” Saul Levin, MD, MPA, APAF chair, said in an APA press release. “While we’ve made strides in treating its symptoms over the years, more research and tools for physicians are needed to help our patients, particularly to identify and treat those who are at high risk for psychosis.”

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