Schizophrenia News: November 2010

  • This month I'd like to talk about breaking news in the mental health field relating to schizophrenia treatment.  I've collected information from various sources like SZ magazine which I recommend you subscribe to for $20/year.


    An update to my SharePost about how a Novel Antipsychotic Improves Cognition:


    Cypress Bioscience, Inc. will launch a clinical trial of that drug, CYP-1020, in early 2011 that aims to demonstrate its potential to improve the cognitive deficits related to schizophrenia.  You can read the information about clinical trials at the government web site where you can search for trials you might be a candidate for.

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    A drug coming to the market early next year is Latuda (lurasidone HCL) that joins newcomers Fanapt and Saphris in the atypical arsenal. It features minimal weight gain and metabolic effects.  The most common side effects were drowsiness, feelings of restlessness and the urge to move (akathisia), nausea and movement affects such as tremors, slow movement or muscle stiffness and agitation.


    The latest NAMI Advocate newsletter (you receive a copy if you join NAMI) talks about the latest schizophrenia treatment.  I alluded to this in a blog entry I wrote for the blog at my author web site: personalized medicine.  This is the advancing field of pharmacogenetics that promises to identify selective drugs or nutritional interventions to match an individual's specific biochemistry. 


    Under study is the COMT gene that regulates dopamine in the area of the brain responsible for attention and short-term memory.  In other studies the MTHFR gene has been found to contribute to negative symptoms and cognition by regulating folate metabolism.


    Research is also focused on key mechanisms: the brain's own capacity for repair and recovery by protecting existing neurons (neuroprotection), the ability to improve their efficiency (neuroplasticity) and the increase in the production of new neurons (neurogenesis).


    It is thought that some schizophrenia drugs promote neurogenesis.


    Early studies also show that cognitive remediation, in combination with social training or supported employment programs, has improved cognitive and social functioning and increased brain volume.  This involves computerized exercises designed to stimulate neuroplasticity.


    Two NIMH-funded RAISE projects seek to examine optimal drug and psychosocial interventions in first-episode schizophrenia in light of whether existing treatments can have long-term impact.


    In a novel study, omega fatty acids (fish oil) appeared to halt the progress from a state of high risk (prodrome) to psychosis.  Another NIMH study-DECIFER- aims to determine if elevating brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) can reduce early brain volume loss and improve the course of the illness.


    The NAMI e-Advocate newsletter offers a glimpse into Schizophrenia Today: with such breakthroughs as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and genetic and prenatal research.  The SZ magazine fall 2010 issue features an article on the Twin Dynamic: where researchers are studying the DNA of twins to try to determine the genetics of schizophrenia.


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    Personalized medicine could be seen as the great hope for people who are often treatment-resistant-where the medication doesn't work effectively to alleviate the symptoms.  Right now the trial-and-error approach is the only one used for a lot of individuals with this illness.  The idea that targeting one's genes would reduce years of fruitless effort is intriguing.


    The current atypicals all have varying degrees of side effects as well.  This repertoire includes Geodon, Abilify, Invega, Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Clozaril, Fanapt, Saphris and shortly Latuda


    You can go on the A to Z drugs web site to find the shorthand information about medications that includes side effects and doses.  There you can also type in the names of two or more drugs to find out how they interact with each other.  Your pharmacist will also be able to give you a print-out for your drug.


    Talking about the science behind the advancements in treating schizophrenia is one thing.  Now: I feel compelled to reinforce other factors that contribute to a successful recovery: getting outside of your room and doing things in the world, developing a fitness routine, adopting a healthful eating plan and maintaining positive and supportive relationships.


    The great hope is that this progress in the frontiers of medicine and research will enable individuals diagnosed with SZ to indeed do these other things to a degree not always possible for some of us right now.


    Stay tuned.


    I'd love to hear your feedback.


Published On: November 07, 2010