Schizophrenia News March 2014

  • The latest news isn't new at all: "primary negative symptoms worsen functioning in schizophrenia," according to a study of 1427 individuals with schizophrenia with an average age of 40.6 years and 74 percent men.


    Primary negative symptoms harshly affect social, vocational and recreational functioning.


    In the study, as the negative symptom burden rose, these functions significantly decreased: interpersonal relationships (social), instrumental role (vocational), and use of common objects and activities (recreational).


    Negative symptom severity rose significantly with higher severity of psychosis, depression, anxiety and extrapyramidal symptoms.

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    (Primary negative symptoms worsen functioning in schizophrenia, retrieved from on March 23, 2014)


    Johnson & Johnson will submit a schizophrenia drug for market in 2014 after it halted a Phase-III test of the experimental schizophrenia medication

    The Independent Data Monitoring Committee said the trial could be stopped because of the positive efficacy of the drug, a three-month dose of paliperidone palmitate.


    The study goal was to identify the time between the dose and first relapse.  Individuals were first stabilized with Invega Sustenna, a monthly paliperidone palmitate treatment, before starting the trial.


    An easier dosing schedule might make adherence easier for patients with schizophrenia who have anosognosia or trouble remembering to take the pills.


    Johnson & Johnson expects to file the three-month dose for FDA review by the end of 2014.


    (J&J to submit schizophrenia drug in 2014, retrieved from on March 23, 2014)


    Close to 200 gene variants that contribute to psychiatric illnesses have been identified, according to Jordan Smoller, M.D., Sc.D., a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a psychiatric genetics expert.


    Francis McMahon, M.D., chief of the Human Genetics Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health told interviewers we can point to over 100 gene variants that have been consistently linked with schizophrenia.


    The technology allows researchers to look at the entire genome using genetic markers spaced through all the genes and all the regions between the genes.  This is a way of gauging which particular regions are more likely to occur in people with a particular illness.


    The biological functions  of some of the genetic anomalies underlying psychiatric disorders have been identified.


    For example, a gene implicated in bipolar disorder encodes calcium channels and these channels are important in nerve development and the synapse.


    Dozens of gene variants have been identified that contribute to schizophrenia yet one researcher state the latest estimates are that there may be as many as 8,000 that do.


    The goal is to know how specific mutations in these genes actually cause illness.


    With the calcium channels linked to bipolar, clinical trials are underway to see if calcium channel blockers used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease could have therapeutic value with psychiatric illnesses.


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    (Clinical and Research News, March 20, 2014 Psychiatric Genetics Hold Great Promise, Psychiatric News, Volume 49 Number 6 page 1)

Published On: March 30, 2014