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EEG predicts response to medication for schizophrenia
Date:8/4/2010

A commonplace electroencephalography (EEG) test may hold the key to predicting whether a person will respond to certain prescribed drugs, particularly those related to psychiatric conditions.

In a study to be published by Clinical Neurophysiology, and now posted online, engineering and health sciences researchers at McMaster University applied machine learning to EEG patterns and successfully predicted how patients with schizophrenia would respond to clozapine therapy.

Clozapine is recognized as an effective treatment for chronic medication-resistant schizophrenia but can produce serious side effects such as seizures, cardiac arrhythmias or bone marrow suppression. Some patients can develop blood problems that are life-threatening. Weekly to monthly blood sampling is required.

"Some people can suffer terrible side effects from clozapine," said Dr. Gary Hasey, associate professor at McMaster and director of the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation laboratory at St. Joseph's Healthcare Mood Disorders Clinic in Hamilton. "The logistic difficulties for the patient and treatment team are also substantial. A method to reliably determine, before the onset of therapy, whether a patient will or will not respond to clozapine would greatly assist the clinician in determining whether the risks and logistic complexity of clozapine are outweighed by the potential benefits."

To conduct the study, EEGs were taken from 23 patients diagnosed with medication-resistant schizophrenia before they began taking clozapine. Twelve were men and 11 were women, all of middle age. The brainwave patterns and response to the clozapine therapy of these patients were used to "train" a computer algorithm to predict whether or not a specific patient will respond to the drug. The prediction accuracy was approximately 89 per cent. This algorithm showed similar predictive accuracy when it was further tested in a new group of 14 additional patients
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Contact: Gene Nakonechny
genen@mcmaster.ca
905-525-9140 x26781
McMaster University
Source:Eurekalert  

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EEG predicts response to medication for schizophrenia
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