Schizophrenia News: October 2012

  • Immune function could play role in schizophrenia, according to an Australian study reported in Molecular Psychiatry.  Senior researcher Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert from Neuroscience Research Australia and UNSW suggests that their findings indicate a new root cause of schizophrenia.

     

    Elevated levels of inflammation were found in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of people diagnosed with schizophrenia.  This is a key region in the brain that is affected by this illness in 40 percent of individuals with this disorder.

     

    The hint of an overactive immune system in people diagnosed with schizophrenia could lead to future treatments, as inflammation occurs in 40 percent of individuals.

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    (Schizophrenia May Be Associated With Immune function, retrieved on August 29, 2012 from www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248848.php)

     

    Cognitive training in adolescence can impact schizophrenia, according to a New York University study that used an animal model of schizophrenia with rats that developed schizophrenia-like symptoms.

     

    The animals that have "holes in their brain" can go on to act like normal adults if they've had cognitive training in adolescence.  This was discovered by accident while the research team studied cognition: "the inability to sift through confusing or conflicting information and focus on what is relevant."

     

    This is a hardship in individuals with schizophrenia.  The absence of symptoms in the cognitive-tested rats was tied to their early brain training.  The findings mirror the idea that illnesses like schizophrenia are caused by problems in brain development earlier in life.

     

    The researchers are hopeful that in the future this kind of training could change the outcome by better enabling people to manage their illness and better function in society.  It could hold promise for other illnesses as well.

     

    (Schizophrenia Signs Can Be Reversed With Training, retrieved on August 29, 2012 from www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249403.php)

     

    A new drug target for schizophrenia was identified.  Certain drugs are ineffective to treat schizophrenia.  30 percent of the people diagnosed with this illness do not respond to current treatment.

     

    Researchers at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine might have discovered why some drugs are ineffective.  The research team set out to reveal the epigenetic factors, or external factors that influence gene expression, that could be involved in treatment-resistant schizophrenia.

     

    Their findings are that over time an enzyme in schizophrenia brains analyzed at autopsy started to compensate for the prolonged chemical changes caused by the drugs, leading to their reduced efficacy. 

     

    Long-term drug use could cause biochemical changes in the brain that limit the drugs' therapeutic effects.  The medications trigger an increase of HDAC2 in the frontal cortex of people with schizophrenia, and this reduces the presence of mGlu2, limiting the efficacy.

     

    HDAC2 is an enzyme that was highly expressed in the brain of mice chronically treated with the schizophrenia drugs.  It lowered the expression of the receptor mGlu2.

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    (New Drug Target For Schizophrenia Identified, retrieved on August 29, 2012 f4rom www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/248983.php)

     

    Night Eating Syndrome affects up to 12 percent of obese schizophrenia patients compared to 1.5 percent of the general population, according to a study.

     

    Night Eating Syndrome or NES is indentified by overeating at night (at least 25 percent of total food consumption), getting up in the night at least twice a week to eat, being aware of night time eating, and impaired functioning and distress.

     

    Three of the following must be present: a strong desire to eat at night, insomnia, believing one must eat in order to sleep, or depressed moods in the evening. 

     

    Symptoms must last for a minimum of three months.

     

    Researchers studied 100 outpatients with schizoaffective and schizophrenia.  61 percent were female.  The group had an average age of 46.5 and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 38.2.

     

    (NES, Schizophrenia Have Connection, retrieved on September 16, 2012 from www.mentalwellnesstoday.com)

     

    Israeli biopharmaceutical firm BioLine RX has received a patent pm BL-1020 through 2031.  The firm is conducting a Phase II/III trial with BL-1020's cognition enhancement as its primary goal.  Results of the trial will be revealed in the second half of 2013.

     

    (BioLin RX patent protection extended for schizophrenia drug, retrieved on September 27, 2012 from Reuters.com/article)

Published On: October 01, 2012