Schizophrenia Latest News: December 2011

  • EnVivo Pharmaceuticals announced data in Neuropharmacology that indicate its compound EVP-6124 restored memory loss and improved memory function in preclinical models, making it a candidate for use as a long-term treatment to improve cognitive function in schizophrenia and Alzheimer's.

    EVP-62124 is a potent and highly selective agonist of alpha-7 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). It works alone or in combination with donepezil to restore memory loss and improve memory function.

    EnVivo reported Phase 2B clinical data of EVP-6124 that indicate statistically significant and clinically meaningful effects on cognition and functional symptoms in schizophrenia.

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    Their data for the Phase 2B study of EVP-6124 in Alzheimer's disease will be released in the first half of 2012.

    The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine staff and Jansssen Pharmaceuticals have teamed up to pioneer the use of "allosteric modulators" to adjust the activity of neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. The target for schizophrenia is a receptor for the neurotransmitter glutamate, called mGluR5. It regulates brain circuits that are disrupted in people with schizophrenia.

    Researchers at Vanderbilt University also indentified chemical compounds that could be used to treat schizophrenia. The compounds inhibit glycine transporter one (GlyT1), an action that allows for better function of brain cells involved in SZ. These compounds are thought to have the potential to improve social and cognitive functioning for people with SZ who exhibit deficits in these areas not currently ameliorated by the current drugs.

    Funding for their research came in part from the NIMH, which in 2010 awarded Vanderbilt a five-year, $10million grant to establish a National Cooperative Drug Discovery and Development Group. Its target is new schizophrenia therapies.

    Alkermes plc initiated their phase 3 clinical trial of ALKS-9070, a proprietary Alkermes molecule designed to treat schizophrenia via a depot injection that converts to aripiprazole (Abilify). The company expects to see the results in mid-2013. 690 subjects will be randomized to receive once-monthly injections of ALKS 9070 300 mg, ALKS 9070 600 mg or placebo for twelve weeks.

    The antipsychotic drug loxapine (Adasuve) has come under fire as a treatment for agitation in people with bipolar and schizophrenia. Inhaling the drug can cause pulmonary side effects, including brochospasms. These side effects are a serious risk for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

    Given that a significant number of people with SZ smoke and could have COPD as a result, it's a no-brainer to me that the risks might outweigh the benefits.


    Fifty-four percent of the people who had asthma and were treated with loxapine experienced airway adverse events versus 12 percent of those treated with a placebo.

    Fifty-eight percent of the people with COPD who were treated with loxapine had respiratory symptoms versus 22 percent of those given a placebo.

  • In a twist on drug development, Brain Plasticity, the developer of a cognitive training game, seeks FDA approval to market the game as a therapeutic drug. The game is geared to help people with SZ improve their deficits in attention and memory.

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    In early 2012, a study will be conducted with 150 participants at 15 sites across the U.S. They will play the game one hour five times a week for six months. If that "dosage" is effective, Brain Plasticity will lobby for FDA approval.

    The brain game industry is a controversial one. A study in Nature last year showed cognitive training games don't improve brain fitness. Critics of the study say it was flawed because the games need to be tested more rigorously.

    The Brain Plasticity training game comes with a stringent "dosage" requirement and is specifically geared only to people diagnosed with schizophrenia who have cognitive impairment.

    My next SharePost will scrutinize the latest research on non-drug adjuncts to schizophrenia treatment. Stay tuned.

Published On: December 22, 2011