Start-up develops blood test for chronic pain and suicide risk

Chloe Kent 3 July 2019 (Last Updated July 3rd, 2019 14:00)

An Indianapolis University spinout is developing a commercial blood test for chronic pain and mental health issues, which it expects will be available within the next year.

Start-up develops blood test for chronic pain and suicide risk
MindX Sciences aims to develop the first objective tests to chronic pain and mental illness using blood biomarkers. Credit: Shutterstock

An Indianapolis University spinout is developing a commercial blood test for chronic pain and mental health issues, which it expects will be available within the next year.

MindX Sciences aims to develop the first objective tests to measure pain, suicide risk, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, longevity and other indications using blood biomarkers. These have been identified by company founder, chairman and chief scientific officer Alexander Niculescu.

The company hopes to make blood tests for the suicidality and pain biomarkers available to select doctors within the next year through an early-access program, with wider access and blood tests for the other indications available over the next one to three years.

MindX Sciences co-founder, president and CEO R. Matthew Neff said: “There is no objective method to assess pain in current clinical practice. A doctor shows you a happy-to-sad face scale and asks you to rate your pain, and then they observe you. That’s it. They can’t tell the magnitude of the pain because it’s a very personal, subjective experience.”

The company’s technology works by using a proprietary app to help doctors assess their patient’s initial risk of mental health issues and track their symptoms. At-risk patients will then undergo the relevant blood tests to try and identify an objective measure of their symptoms, which can be carried out repeatedly to help physicians assess and adjust their treatment going forward.

Niculescu said: “It’s very important to bring psychiatry into the 21st century – to make it on par with other medical specialties – because in the end, everything we are or do is reflected in the mind. If your mind is helped to function well, your whole life is happier and longer.”

MindX Sciences hopes its product will be able to help doctors match patients to the correct medications and monitor their response to new treatments, as well as help pharmaceutical companies develop new medications. The company has already identified some compounds it believes could be promising in treating the conditions it targets, based on Niculescu’s biomarker research.