Schizophrenia News: July 2014

  • The biological root of schizophrenia is becoming clearer.

     

    Researchers have found this illness is linked to 108 genes.  They used 80,000 genetic samples and it took seven years and the work of 300 scientists from around the world.  The researchers were part of the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium.  They identified 108 new regions on the genome linked to this condition.

     

    For too long: a host of professionals haven't even thought schizophrenia exists or that only traumatic events cause the disorder.

     

    The study used genome wide association that sequences the genomes of individuals with and without schizophrenia to see where they differ.

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    Since Thorazine was released in 1954 the drugs developed to treat this illness have mostly been me-too drugs acting on the same mechanism.  Now there are more than 100 genes that point to calcium channels, glutamate, the immune system and treatments could be created linked to these findings.

     

    (Schizophrenia Linked to 108 Genes, retrieved on July 27, 2014 from http://time.com/3019649/schizophrenia-linked-108-genes/)

     

    In other news:

     

    A controversial treatment option has the potential to halt young people from developing full-blown schizophrenia.  A young woman was given early intervention at a clinic in California, and within years was off all her medications and doing better than when she first had hallucinations.  She had taken a Yale University-developed screening test that indentified her as, possibly, in the prodromal stage of psychosis. 

     

    The Ventura Early Intervention Prevention Services or VIPS, treated her.  She was eligible for this program because she had insight and hadn't had a psychotic break.  Her family credits the treatment with helping her get her life back.

     

    The American Psychiatric Association excluded "psychosis risk syndrome" from the DSM-5.  Vocal critics of early treatment like Allen Frances, a former professor of psychiatry at Duke University, contend the harm to individuals in the programs outweighs the benefits.

     

    Bill McFarlane, a Maine psychiatrist, whose PIER Training Institute help establish prodrome clinics in California, sees clear benefits that include reduced hospitalization rates in Portland, Maine.  The Portland Identification and Early Referral Program he established served at-risk psychosis patients for over a decade.

     

    He and others in favor of early treatment are convinced it's better to treat a person in the early window before the illness becomes chronic and hard to treat. 

     

    The window of time to treat "may be too precious to miss."

     

    (New Clinics in California Seek to Stop Schizophrenia Before it Starts, retrieved on July 28, 2014 from http://blogs.kqed.org/science/audio/new-clinics-in-california-seek-to-stop-schizophrenia-before-it-starts/)

     

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Published On: July 28, 2014