July 23, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011
In recent news, scientists have uncovered the molecular pathway involved in the onset of schizophrenia as well as a potential new treatment for the illness. By observing the effects of a cancer drug called MS-275 in mice, researchers discovered that symptoms of schizophrenia were successfully alleviated.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by disintegration of thought processes and emotional responsiveness. It is most commonly manifested as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking. The onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood. Schizophrenia is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.

Additionally, the disease is said to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia have changes in both brain structure and chemistry. Studies using neuropsychological tests and brain imaging technologies such as fMRI and PET to examine functional differences in brain activity have shown that differences seem to most commonly occur in the frontal lobes, hippocampus and temporal lobes.

The greatest risk for developing schizophrenia is having a first-degree relative with the disease. Environmental factors associated with the development of schizophrenia include the living environment, drug use and prenatal stressors. Factors such as hypoxia and infection, or stress and malnutrition in the mother during fetal development, may result in a slight increase in the risk of schizophrenia later in life. A number of drugs have been associated with the development of schizophrenia including cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines.
“According to the World Health Organization, 90% of people with untreated schizophrenia are in developing countries. Current treatments for schizophrenia include both psychological treatments such as psychotherapy, counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy and/or medication. However, many of the antipsychotic drugs or major tranquillisers used to treat or manage the illness have very bad side-effects.”
Schizophrenia is said to affect about 24 million people worldwide.

Medications prescribed to treat schizophrenia include:
    • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
    • Haloperidol (Haldol)
    • Perphenazine (generic only)
    • Fluphenazine (generic only)
    • clozapine (Clozaril)
    • Risperidone (Risperdal)
    • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
    • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
    • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
    • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
    • Aliperidone (Invega)
Typical side effects include:
    • Drowsiness
    • Dizziness when changing positions
    • Blurred vision
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Sensitivity to the sun
    • Skin rashes
    • Menstrual problems for women
    • Rigidity
    • Persistent muscle spasms
    • Tremors
    • Restlessness
Professor Peter Giese at King's College London discovered that individuals with schizophrenia had a reduction in the enzyme activator called p35. By manipulating the level of this enzyme in mice, the researchers were able to mirror typical cognitive impairments found in those with schizophrenia. Consequently, human post-mortem brains revealed that schizophrenic patients had approximately 50% less p35 in their brains.

That being said, the brain requires, among other things, the activation of a protein call Cdk5 to assist in proper development and this protein can only be activated in the presence of the p35 enzyme.

Therefore, by manipulating the level of p35 enzyme in mice, researchers noted that “the mice showed a reduction in synaptic proteins -- important in maintaining neural connections -- and displayed symptoms associated with schizophrenia, including learning impairments and inability to react to sensory stimuli.”

Subsequently, Professor Giese and his research team noticed that the reduction of the p35 enzyme altered molecules in the brain that are targeted by the cancer drug MS-275. To their delight, the molecular changes were corrected and the schizophrenic symptoms were alleviated by this drug.

With any luck, more research will prove that this drug is more beneficial than current medications with intolerable side-effects.

Cancer Drugs May Help Treatment of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Mental Health Medications

© www.mentalhealthblog.com

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1 comment

1 comments:

Jake@Beyondalabel.com said...

I'm diagnosed with Schizophrenia. This was interesting. I'm all for a medication with less side effects. I've had so many medication changes in my life now that, it's getting tiring!

I recently started a blog on my experiences. Mine's in development. It's a lot of work and I like yours very much.

That's usually how mental health medications are found... by accident sadly. Thanks for the update!

Best Wishes,
Jake

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