Links for Keyword: Schizophrenia

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Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. New research has discovered that people with schizophrenia have certain brain cells where their DNA stays too tightly wound. When DNA is too tightly wound, it can stop other genes from expressing themselves in their normal pattern. The new findings suggest that drugs already in development for other diseases might eventually offer hope as a treatment for schizophrenia and related conditions in the elderly. The research shows the deficit is especially pronounced in younger people. This suggests that treatment might be most effective early on at minimizing or even reversing symptoms of schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a usually-serious mental disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and emotional difficulties, among other problems. “We’re excited by the findings,” said Scripps Research Associate Professor Elizabeth Thomas, a neuroscientist who led the study, “and there’s a tie to other drug development work, which could mean a faster track to clinical trials to exploit what we’ve found.” Working with lead author Bin Tang, a postdoctoral fellow in her lab, and Brian Dean, an Australian colleague at the University of Melbourne, Thomas obtained post-mortem brain samples from schizophrenic and healthy brains held at medical ”Brain Banks” in the United States and Australia. The brains come from either patients who themselves agreed to donate some or all of their bodies for scientific research after death, or from patients whose families agreed to such donations. © 1992-2012 Psych Central.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16203 - Posted: 01.03.2012

By BARRON H. LERNER, M.D. Most of us recall lobotomies as they were depicted in the movie “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”— horrifying operations inappropriately used to control mentally ill patients. But in the 1950s, surgeons also used them to treat severe pain from cancer and other diseases. Now a Yale researcher has uncovered surprising new evidence of a famous patient who apparently received a lobotomy for cancer pain during that time: Eva Perón, the first lady of Argentina, who was known as Evita. The story is an interesting, sad footnote in the history not only of lobotomy, but of pain control. The nature of Perón’s illness was initially shrouded in silence. Her doctors diagnosed advanced cervical cancer in August 1951, but as was common at the time, the patient was told only that she had a uterine problem. According to the biographers Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro, secrecy was so paramount that an American specialist, Dr. George Pack, performed Perón’s cancer operation without her or the public ever knowing. He entered the operating suite after she was under anesthesia. Despite surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Perón gradually worsened, dying in late July 1952 at age 33. Only then was it revealed that she had died of cervical cancer, although details of her treatment, including Dr. Pack’s involvement, remained concealed. In a 1972 biography, Erminda Duarte, Perón’s sister, claimed she had suffered intense pain and distress. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16173 - Posted: 12.20.2011

Allen Frances, contributor "WE DON'T see things as they are, we see things as we are." This simple Talmudic saying summarises the essence of epistemology. Psychiatric disorders provide a striking example: they are not real things in nature, but labels we create to describe troubling aspects of human experience. Sometimes labels take on a life of their own. People mistakenly think that naming a psychiatric problem shapes it into a simple disease with a reductionist, biological explanation. Labelling mental disorders is useful in providing a common language and guide to treatment. But psychiatric disorders are remarkably heterogeneous and overlapping in their presentations and complex in their causation. The human brain rarely reveals its secrets in simple answers. All of which brings us to the wonderful book, American Madness, an artful analysis of the rise and fall of the label "dementia praecox" from its promising birth in 1896 to its unlamented death in 1927. Introduced by the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin, the term was used to describe an early onset of psychotic symptoms that presaged a tragic downhill course and poor outcome - as distinct from manic depressive illness, which has a more variable age of onset, cyclical course, and greater chance for a good outcome. The label dementia praecox spread like wildfire and was briefly the darling of psychiatry until it lost out to schizophrenia, a broader concept that included milder and earlier cases and did not necessarily imply such a bleak future or bad outcome. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16151 - Posted: 12.15.2011

By BENEDICT CAREY ATHENS, Ohio — She was gone for good, and no amount of meditation could resolve the grief, even out here in the deep quiet of the woods. “When I began to see the delusions in the context of things that were happening in my real life, they finally made some sense," Milt Greek said. "And understanding the story of my psychosis helped me see what I needed to stay well.” Milt Greek pushed to his feet. It was Mother’s Day 2006, not long after his mother’s funeral, and he headed back home knowing that he needed help. A change in the medication for his schizophrenia, for sure. A change in focus, too; time with his family, to forget himself. And, oh yes, he had to act on an urge expressed in his psychotic delusions: to save the world. So after cleaning the yard around his house — a big job, a gift to his wife — in the coming days he sat down and wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, supporting a noise-pollution ordinance. Small things, maybe, but Mr. Greek has learned to live with his diagnosis in part by understanding and acting on its underlying messages, and along the way has built something exceptional: a full life, complete with a family and a career. He is one of a small number of successful people with a severe psychiatric diagnosis who have chosen to tell their story publicly. In doing so, they are contributing to a deeper understanding of mental illness — and setting an example that can help others recover. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16081 - Posted: 11.26.2011

By BENEDICT CAREY Foster children are being prescribed cocktails of powerful antipsychosis drugs just as frequently as some of the most mentally disabled youngsters on Medicaid, a new study suggests. The report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, is the first to investigate how often youngsters in foster care are given two antipsychotic drugs at once, the authors said. The drugs include Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa — among other so-called major tranquilizers — which were developed for schizophrenia but are now used as all-purpose drugs for almost any psychiatric symptoms. “The kids in foster care may come from bad homes, but they do not have the sort of complex medical issues that those in the disabled population do,” said Susan dosReis, an associate professor in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the lead author. The implication, Dr. dosReis and other experts said: Doctors are treating foster children’s behavioral problems with the same powerful drugs given to people with schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder. “We simply don’t have evidence to support this kind of use, especially in young children,” Dr. dosReis said. In recent years, doctors and policy makers have grown concerned about high rates of overall psychiatric drug use in the foster care system, the government-financed program that provides temporary living arrangements for 400,000 to 500,000 children and adolescents. Previous studies have found that children in foster care receive psychiatric medications at about twice the rate among children outside the system. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16061 - Posted: 11.21.2011

By Bruce Bower People with schizophrenia rapidly and intensely perceive phony replicas of hands as their own, possibly contributing to this mental ailment’s signature hallucinations, a new study suggests. In a series of tests, people with schizophrenia believed a rubber hand placed in front of them was theirs if the visible fake hand and the patient’s hidden, corresponding hand were simultaneously stroked with a paintbrush. Mentally healthy people took longer to experience a less dramatic version of this rubber-hand illusion than schizophrenia patients did, but the effect’s vividness increased among healthy volunteers who reported magical beliefs, severe social anxiety and other characteristics linked to a tendency to psychosis, psychologist Sohee Park of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and her colleagues report online October 31 in PLoS ONE. “Schizophrenia patients may have a more flexible internal representation of their bodies and a weakened sense of self,” Park says. “Even without psychosis, the rubber-hand illusion can be more pronounced in certain personality types.” Mental health clinicians have written for several decades about a disturbed sense of self in schizophrenia. A team led by psychiatrist Avi Peled of Sha’ar Menashe Mental Health Center in Hadera, Israel, first reported a powerful rubber-hand illusion in the illness in 2000. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 16012 - Posted: 11.11.2011

Researchers have found a possible link between heavy use of methamphetamines and schizophrenia. Increased risk of the mental illness was discovered in meth users in a study of California hospital records for patients admitted between 1990 and 2000 with a diagnosis of drug dependence or abuse. Scientists at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health compared the drug users to a control group of patients with appendicitis and no drug use. A drug addict prepares a combination of heroin and crystal meth. Scientists at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health say people hospitalized for meth who didn't have a diagnosis of psychotic symptoms had about a 1.5- to threefold risk of being later diagnosed with schizophrenia.A drug addict prepares a combination of heroin and crystal meth. Scientists at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health say people hospitalized for meth who didn't have a diagnosis of psychotic symptoms had about a 1.5- to threefold risk of being later diagnosed with schizophrenia. Guillermo Arias/Associated Press The hospital records were studied for readmissions for up to 10 years after the initial admission. Co-author Russell Callaghan says people hospitalized for meth who didn't have a diagnosis of psychotic symptoms at the start of the study period had about a 1.5- to threefold risk of being later diagnosed with schizophrenia, compared with groups of patients who used cocaine, alcohol or opioid drugs. © CBC 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 16004 - Posted: 11.08.2011

By BENEDICT CAREY Researchers have long wondered how some people with schizophrenia can manage their symptoms well enough to build full, successful lives. But such people do not exactly line up to enroll in studies. For one thing, they are almost always secretive about their diagnosis. For another, volunteering for a study would add yet another burden to their stressful lives. But that is beginning to change, partly because of the unlikely celebrity of a fellow sufferer. In 2007, after years of weighing the possible risks, Elyn R. Saks, a professor of law at the University of Southern California, published a memoir of her struggle with schizophrenia, “The Center Cannot Hold.” It became an overnight sensation in mental health circles and a best seller, and it won Dr. Saks a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. For psychiatric science, the real payoff was her speaking tour. At mental health conferences here and abroad, Dr. Saks, 56, attracted not only doctors and therapists, but also high-functioning people with the same diagnosis as herself — a fellowship of fans, some of whom have volunteered to participate in studies. “People in the audience would stand up and self-disclose, or sometimes I would be on a panel with someone” who had a similar experience, Dr. Saks said. She also received scores of e-mails from people who had read the book and wanted to meet for lunch. She told many of them about the possibility of participating in a research project. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15938 - Posted: 10.24.2011

By BENEDICT CAREY PASADENA, Calif. — The feeling of danger was so close and overwhelming that there was no time to find its source, no choice but to get out of the apartment, fast. Keris Myrick headed for her car, checked the time — just past midnight, last March — and texted her therapist. “You’re going to the Langham? The hotel?” the doctor responded. “No — you need to be in the hospital. I need you consulting with a doctor.” “What do you think I’m doing right now?” “Oh. Right,” he said. “Well, O.K., then we need to check in regularly.” “And that’s what we did,” said Ms. Myrick, 50, the chief executive of a nonprofit organization, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, a close cousin of schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. “I needed to hide out, to be away for a while. I wanted to pamper myself — room service, great food, fluffy pillows, all that — and I was lucky to have a therapist who understood what was going on and went with it.” Researchers have conducted more than 100,000 studies on schizophrenia since its symptoms were first characterized. They have tested patients’ blood. They have analyzed their genes. They have measured perceptual skills, I.Q. and memory, and have tried perhaps thousands of drug treatments. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15937 - Posted: 10.24.2011

By Carrie Arnold Mike (not his real name) had always been an unusual child. Even as a toddler, he had ­difficulties relating to others and making friends, and he seemed strikingly ­suspicious of other people. After he entered high school, Mike became increasingly angry, paranoid and detached. He worried that people were searching his room and his locker when he was not around. His grades plum­meted as he turned ­inward during class, sketch­ing outlandish scenes in his note­books and muttering to himself rather than listening to the instructor. Paranoia and difficulties connecting with others are signs of psychosis, a mental illness in which people lose touch with reality. Psychotic individuals usually have problems forming rational, coherent thoughts. They also may hear voices or hallucinate while believing that what they perceive is real. Often such delusions result in bizarre behavior and, in severe cases, an inability to ­manage every­day life. But a psychiatrist deemed Mike’s symptoms too mild to qualify him as psychotic. Mike obviously needed some kind of professional intervention, so he bounced among psychiatrists who could not figure out how to help him. Cases such as Mike’s have prompted some practitioners to propose the inclusion of a new psychosis risk diagnosis to the forthcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the “bible” of mental health diagnoses. To receive this diagnosis, a patient would first need to report, for example, having delusions or hallucinations about once a week (as opposed to most of the time for at least one month for clinical psychosis). In addition, either the patient or a loved one must be significantly distressed by those symptoms. The idea of including such a diagnosis in the DSM is highly controversial, but supporters argue that patients such as Mike not only need immediate help, they are at increased risk for developing full-blown psychosis, an outcome doctors might be able to prevent with early intervention. © 2011 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15912 - Posted: 10.15.2011

By BENEDICT CAREY People with severe schizophrenia who have been isolated, withdrawn and considered beyond help can learn to become more active, social and employable by engaging in a type of talk therapy that was invented to treat depression, scientists reported on Monday. These new findings suggest that such patients have far more capability to improve their lives than was previously assumed and, if replicated, could change the way that doctors treat the one million patients for whom the disorder is profoundly limiting. The therapy — a variant of cognitive behavior therapy, which focuses on defusing self-defeating assumptions — increased motivation and reduced symptoms. In previous studies, researchers have used cognitive techniques to help people with schizophrenia manage their hallucinations and sharpen their attention and memory. The new study is the first to rigorously test using the therapy to combat so-called negative symptoms — the listlessness, exhaustion and emotional flatness that trap many people in solitary lives, playing out their days smoking in front of the TV or holed up in their homes. Dr. Bob Buchanan, a psychiatrist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who was not involved in the study, said the results looked impressive. “This is a group of patients who have tried just about everything — drug treatments as well as psychosocial ones — and many clinicians and systems of care have essentially given up on them. If there’s an intervention out there that can make a difference, I think that’s an incredibly important development.” © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15873 - Posted: 10.04.2011

by Andy Coghlan TWIN studies have shown that people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have changes in gene activity caused by their environment. The finding provides the strongest evidence yet that such gene changes might cause the conditions. Jonathan Mill at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and colleagues scanned the genome of 22 pairs of identical twins - chosen because one twin in each pair was diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. As expected, the twins had identical DNA. However, they showed significant differences in chemical "epigenetic" markings - changes that do not alter the sequence of DNA but leave chemical marks on genes that dictate how active they are. These changes were on genes that have been linked with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Mill's team scanned for differences in the attachment of chemical methyl groups at 27,000 sites in the genome. Methylation normally switches genes off, and de-methylation turns them on. Regardless of which condition the twin had, the most significant differences, with variations of up to 20 per cent in the amount of methylation, were in the promoter "switch" for a gene called ST6GALNAC1, which has been linked with schizophrenia. Although the function of the gene isn't fully established, it is thought to add sugars to proteins, which could alter the speed or specificity of their usual function. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15865 - Posted: 10.01.2011

by Sujata Gupta Imagine walking away from a doctor's office with a prescription to play a video game. Brain Plasticity, the developer of a cognitive training game, has begun talks with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market the game as a therapeutic drug. Brain Plasticity has been fine-tuning a game to help people with schizophrenia improve the deficits in attention and memory that are often associated with the disorder. Early next year, they will conduct a study with 150 participants at 15 sites across the country. Participants will play the game for one hour, five times a week over a period of six months. If participants' quality of life improves at that "dosage," Brain Plasticity will push ahead with the FDA approval process. FDA approval for computer games in general – whether for schizophrenia or more common disorders such as depression or anxiety – could change the medical landscape, says Daniel Dardani, a technology licensing officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But FDA involvement in the brain game industry will come with pros and cons. Panellists drawn from research and industry debated the issue at a meeting of the Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society in San Francisco earlier this week. Some hope that an FDA stamp of approval will add integrity to a controversial industry. "The world of brain games is just full of bullshit," Michael Merzenich, co-founder of Posit Science, a developer of cognitive games told New Scientist at the meeting. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15842 - Posted: 09.27.2011

People with schizophrenia are six times more likely to develop epilepsy, says a study which finds a strong relationship between the two diseases. Writing in Epilepsia, researchers in Taiwan say this could be due to genetic, neurobiological or environmental factors. The study followed around 16,000 patients with epilepsy and schizophrenia between 1999 and 2008. An epilepsy expert says it is an interesting and convincing study. The study used data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance database and was led by researchers from the China Medical University Hospital in Taichung. They identified 5,195 patients with schizophrenia and 11,527 patients with epilepsy who were diagnosed during the nine years period. These groups of patients were compared to groups of the same sex and age who did not have either epilepsy or schizophrenia. The findings show that the incidence of epilepsy was 6.99 per 1,000 person-years in the schizophrenia patient group compared to 1.19 in the non-schizophrenia group. The incidence of schizophrenia was 3.53 per 1,000 person-years for patients with epilepsy compared to 0.46 in the non-epilepsy group. Previous studies had suggested a prevalence of psychosis among epilepsy patients. BBC © 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 15815 - Posted: 09.19.2011

RandyeKaye, a former radio personality in Connecticut, has just written a book, “Ben Behind His Voices: One family’s journey from the chaos of schizophrenia to hope,’’ about life with her son. A. I had always wanted to share our family’s story. One of the things that was so hard for us is I felt so alone - like nobody else’s kid had a mental illness, what’s wrong with my son, what did I do wrong? I wanted to spread the message of exactly what families go through and that recovery is possible, and some of the ways to deal with things. Q. Your son wasn’t diagnosed until years after he started acting oddly and had psychotic episodes that potentially damaged his brain. Do you resent the fact that he wasn’t diagnosed sooner? A. A lot of symptoms of mental illnesses overlap. I look back now [at the] typical pattern of gradual onset schizophrenia, and my son hit every single point: from extreme brightness, to being slightly anxious as a child, to having difficulty organizing his thoughts, to mood swings, and then to isolation from his peers. But if you look at any of those symptoms, it could be plain old adolescence, it could be drug use. There’s no way to test [for] it. Q. Mental illness can also be a financial catastrophe as well as an emotional one for a family. Did you experience that? A. My son’s college fund went to cure symptoms of an illness I didn’t know was there. A lot of families [facing mental illness] say you either have no money and the system can help you, or you have money and the system will help you when you’re out of money. Medications alone can be $6,000 a month. © 2011 NY Times Co

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15746 - Posted: 08.30.2011

By Nicole Gray A mother's age is often considered a genetic risk factor for offspring, but research is now pointing the finger at fathers, too—particularly when it comes to the mental health of their progeny. Males may have the advantage of lifelong fertility, but as they grow older, the rate of genetic mutations passed on via their sperm cells increases significantly—putting their children at increased risk for psychiatric disorders, especially autism and schizophrenia. Two recent studies support this link at least associatively, but experts remain uncertain if age is the cause of these problems. The Malaysian Mental Health Survey (MMHS) results, which were published online in March 2011, for instance, revealed that people with older parents as well as those whose fathers were at least 11 years older than their mothers, were at increased risk for certain mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias. Offspring whose fathers were 19 or younger when the child was born had just a 9 percent prevalence of mental health disorders. Regardless of paternal age, however, if the father was 11 years or older than the mother, that rate jumped to 24 percent. The greatest risk of mental health disorders—42 percent—was seen in the children of fathers aged 50 and older, with wives at least 11 years younger than their husbands. The link between paternal age and increased risk of mental illness has long been recognized by practitioners, but researchers are beginning to unravel more details: "We have known that the children of older men have higher susceptibility to sporadic disease since the 1970s, but there has been an explosion of research in this area," says Dolores Malaspina, a professor of psychiatry and environmental medicine at New York University and a leader in the field of paternal age-related schizophrenia (PARS). © 2011 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15738 - Posted: 08.30.2011

By Kenneth I. Kaitin and Christopher P. Milne Schizophrenia, depression, addiction and other mental disorders cause suffering and cost billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. Neurological and psychiatric conditions account for 13 percent of the global burden of disease, a measure of years of life lost because of premature mortality and living in a state of less than full health, according to the World Health Organization. Despite the critical need for newer and better medications to treat a range of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, drugs to treat these diseases are just too complex and costly for big pharmaceutical companies to develop. The risk of spending millions on new drugs only to have them fail in the pipeline is too great. That’s why many big drug companies are pulling the plug on R&D for neuropsychiatric and other central nervous system (CNS) medicines. Our team at the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development has arrived at this conclusion after conducting surveys of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies about the drug development process. These surveys allow us to generate reliable estimates of the time, cost and risk of designing new drugs. Our analyses show that central nervous system agents are far more difficult to develop than most other types. © 2011 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15671 - Posted: 08.11.2011

By James Gallagher Health reporter, BBC News US scientists say they have "fundamentally transformed" the understanding of the genetics of schizophrenia. A report in the journal Nature Genetics showed that "fresh mutations" in DNA are involved in at least half of schizophrenia cases, when there is no family history of the illness. Researchers found mutations in 40 different genes. They say their findings explain the high number of cases around the world. Schizophrenia is quite common, it affects one in every 100 people during their lifetime. Genes play a part in the illness. A tenth of people with schizophrenia also have a parent with the condition. However, researchers now say there is a genetic role even in cases which have not been inherited. A person's DNA is not a perfect copy of their parents' genetic code - there are mutations when eggs and sperm are formed. A team at Columbia University Medical Center analysed the genetic code of 225 people, some with and some without the condition. They found mutations in 40 genes were linked to schizophrenia. Lead researcher Dr Maria Karayiorgou said: "The fact that the mutations are all from different genes is particularly fascinating. BBC © 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15659 - Posted: 08.09.2011

By BENEDICT CAREY LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The job was gone, the gun was loaded, and a voice was saying, “You’re a waste, give up now, do it now.” Mr. Holt and his wife, Patsy, who has been one of his main resources in his struggle with mental illness. It was a command, not a suggestion, and what mattered at that moment — a winter evening in 2000 — was not where the voice was coming from, but how assured it was, how persuasive. Losing his first decent job ever seemed like too much for Joe Holt to live with. It was time. “All I remember then is a knock on the bedroom door and my wife, Patsy, she sits down on the bed and hugs me, and I’m holding the gun in my left hand, down here, out of sight,” said Mr. Holt, 50, a computer consultant and entrepreneur who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. “She says, ‘Joe, I know you feel like quitting, but what if tomorrow is the day you get what you want?’ And walks out. I sat there staring at that gun for an hour at least, and finally decided — never again. It can never be an option. Patsy deserves for me to be trying.” In recent years, researchers have begun talking about mental health care in the same way addiction specialists speak of recovery — the lifelong journey of self-treatment and discipline that guides substance abuse programs. The idea remains controversial: managing a severe mental illness is more complicated than simply avoiding certain behaviors. The journey has more mazes, fewer road signs. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15654 - Posted: 08.08.2011

By DUFF WILSON Warnings for Seroquel will soon recommend that the drug be avoided in combination with 12 drugs linked to arrhythmia. The revised label, posted without fanfare last week on the F.D.A. Web site, says Seroquel and extended-release Seroquel XR “should be avoided” in combination with at least 12 other medicines linked to a heart arrhythmia that can cause sudden cardiac arrest. Sandy Walsh, a spokeswoman for the F.D.A., said the statement was only a precaution for doctors, and should not be considered a complete ban against prescribing Seroquel with the other drugs. Ms. Walsh said the label was changed after the F.D.A. received new information about reports of arrhythmia in 17 people who took more than the recommended doses of Seroquel. Though it should not be a problem at a normal dosage, she said, it may still be good advice to avoid using the drugs together. The arrhythmia, known as prolongation of the QT interval, referring to two waves of the heart’s electrical rhythm, is estimated to cause several thousand deaths a year in the United States. As AstraZeneca prepares to report its second-quarter earnings at the end of this month, it faces additional scrutiny this week. The F.D.A. is considering the London-based company’s dapagliflozin, a proposed diabetes drug with Bristol-Myers Squibb, and is expected to decide soon on Brilinta, an anticoagulant. The company is facing the loss of patents for Seroquel next year and for the heartburn drug Nexium in 2014. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15583 - Posted: 07.19.2011