Clinical And Regulatory Aspects Of Trials With Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia Discussed At ISCTM Meeting
A half-day workshop on issues in the design of clinical trials to evaluate treatments for negative symptoms of schizophrenia, chaired by Stephen Marder, MD, UCLA Department of Psychiatry and David Daniel, M.D., United BioSource Corporation was held 5 October 2009, as part of the International Society for CNS Clinical Trials and Methodology (ISCTM) Autumn Conference in San Diego, CA. Negative symptoms, characterized by reduced motivation, reduced emotional experience, social withdrawal and slowing of psychomotor functions, remain a key unmet treatment need for persons with schizophrenia. Questions addressed at this workshop centered on the optimal designs of clinical studies that might be developed to achieve regulatory approval for monotherapy and adjunctive therapy indications for the treatment of negative symptoms.
An innovative diagnostic technique invented by a Monash University researcher could dramatically fast-track the detection of mental and neurological illnesses. Monash biomedical engineer Brian Lithgow has developed electrovestibulography which is something akin to an 'ECG for the mind'. Patterns of electrical activity in the brain's vestibular (or balance) system are measured against distinct response patterns found in depression, schizophrenia and other Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders. The vestibular system is closely connected to the primitive regions of the brain that relate to emotions and behaviour, so Lithgow saw the diagnostic potential of measuring and comparing different patterns of electrovestibular activity.
For decades, scientists have thought the faulty neural wiring that predisposes individuals to behavioral disorders like autism and psychiatric diseases like schizophrenia must occur during development. Even so, no one has ever shown that a risk gene for the disease actually disrupts brain development. Now, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have found that the 22q11 gene deletion, a mutation that confers the highest known genetic risk for schizophrenia, is associated with changes in the development of the brain that ultimately affect how its circuit elements are assembled. In studies conducted in mice, the researchers discovered that the genetic lesion alters the number of a critical subset of neurons that end up in the brain's cerebral cortex the region critical to reasoning and memory.
2.1 Million Grant Awarded For Genetic Study Of Schizophrenia To US And Hebrew University Researchers
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $2.1 million "Grand Opportunity" (GO) grant to a team of researchers - led by Prof. Todd Lencz at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, New York, and Prof.Ariel Darvasi of the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - to conduct a study on the genetic basis of schizophrenia.. The team, which also includes Drs. Anil Malhotra and Peter Gregersen of the Feinstein Institute and Dr. David Goldman of the US National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, will use advanced technologies in their groundbreaking research. As described by the NIH, the GO grant program was designed to support "high impact ideas" that can "accelerate critical breakthroughs" in our understanding of human disease.
Researchers say antiepilectic drug treatments administered when the brain is developing appear to trigger schizophrenia-like behavior in animal models. In humans, having a history of seizures in infancy is a significant risk factor for development of schizophrenia later in life, but it is not known whether the elevated risk is due to seizures themselves, or from side effects antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment. ss In research presented at the 39th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center researchers show that exposure to AEDs during critical periods of brain development in animal models increases schizophrenia-like behaviors.
Last year the UK government reclassified cannabis from a class C to a class B drug, partly out of concerns that cannabis, especially the more potent varieties, may increase the risk of schizophrenia in young people. But the evidence for the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia or psychosis remains controversial. A new study has determined that it may be necessary to stop thousands of cannabis users in order to prevent a single case of schizophrenia. Scientists from Bristol, Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took the latest information on numbers of cannabis users, the risk of developing schizophrenia, and the risk that cannabis use causes schizophrenia to estimate how many cannabis users may need to be stopped to prevent one case of schizophrenia.