Schizophrenia Latest News November 2011

  • Schizophrenia and Street Drugs:


    Meth, crank, speed-whatever you call it, the drug is bad news.

    Now a study proves methamphetamine use can trigger schizophrenia in people susceptible to this illness.  According to research, heavy meth users are nine times more likely to develop SZ than hospitalized individuals without any substance abuse history.

    Methamphetamine and other stimulants are the second most common type of street drug use worldwide.  Fergie, the superstar singer, admitted in a women's magazine that her meth use caused her to have paranoia and schizophrenia-like symptoms.  This isn't a ringing endorsement for going out and trying the drug.  The singer is lucky she's alive and in good health now.  Countless others are dead or can barely function.

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    Schizophrenia Gene and Brain Development:


    The Disrupted in Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) gene is an example of a rare cause of psychiatric disorders and was identified first in a large Scottish clan with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

    Common variants in DISC1 were linked with altered cognition, brain structure and function yet until now it was not known how this occurs.  Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and her colleagues Karun K. Singh, Laurel Drane, Yingwei Mao, Zachary Flood and Cillian King were able to demonstrate how DISC1 variants impair signaling pathways and disrupt brain development.

    The researchers hypothesized that changes in brain development linked with common DISC 1 variants are the result of disruption in specific signaling pathways.  The Institute reports that DISC1 modulates Wnt signaling via GSK3B.  Li-Huei Tsai suggested that this is interesting because the common mood stabilizer drug lithium and the schizophrenia risk gene Akt also inhibit GSK3B.  This results in "activation of canonical Wnt signaling" that shows "it may be an important target in psychiatric disease."


    It "could play a significant role in mediating mood and psychiatric disorders."

    Chinese Scientists Identify Novel Schizophrenia Gene:


    Researchers at Anhui Medical University claimed scientists have pinpointed a specific gene that increases susceptibility to schizophrenia.  The genes of about 12,000 individuals with schizophrenia and healthy individuals were analyzed from two separate cohorts and the researchers discovered "Tspan-18."  This gene is located in the eleventh chromosome and it increases susceptibility to this illness.

    Scientists from Anhui Medical Unversity, the First Hospital affiliated with the university, the National Human Genome Center and Peking University conducted the research.

    Their finding also confirmed another schizophrenia-susceptible gene that was discovered by researchers outside of China.  This gene is located in the sixth chromosome.

    This news gives us great hope for individualized psychopharmacology rooted in each person's biochemical makeup.  The goal would be to develop drugs and other treatments that are tailored to each person.  What wonderful hope could be given to people with treatment-refractory schizophrenia.


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    As for the findings about meth use, I can only urge you to steer clear of street drugs at all times.  You don't have to waste your life.  Addiction isn't pretty.  It can also kill you.  You might like how a drug makes you feel only this is a temporary illusion.

    A wise woman I met told me on Saturday: "Every emotion deserves a place of honor." You might be in pain, you might feel depressed, yet it's better to live through this and know that you can heal what you feel.  Street drug use is only a bandage for the real problem.


    I would suggest you seek the help of a good therapist and commit to taking your SZ meds instead.  Real recovery is possible.  Street drug use makes recovery elusive.

Published On: November 18, 2011