Blood test will help predict the level of placebo effect

German biologists have learned how to use a proteome blood test to predict how the patient will react to placebo. A study on this has been published in PLoS ONE.

By studying the proteins in the blood of patients who were or were not treated with placebo, researchers at the University of Munich identified differences in the level of proteins in the complement system. The difference was used to create a predictive model.

A placebo is a simulation of treatment performed without the patient’s knowledge. The patient may be given pacifiers or injections of salt solution, plus there are medical procedures that only mimic the treatment. Despite the simulation, placebo may be the cause of real physiological improvements. However, scientists still do not fully understand what the placebo effect is based on.

“We decided to find out how the placebo effect is related to the protein composition of the blood. To do this, we conducted a double blind experiment involving 100 volunteers who were pumped up on special chairs, causing nausea. The volunteers were divided into three groups and applied different methods of nausea control to each of them, including placebo. Blood testing of the volunteers showed that exposure to placebo treatment depends on the specifics of blood proteins,” the authors of the scientific paper say.