Improving the search for new schizophrenia treatments

April 5, 2013
Improving the search for new schizophrenia treatments

(Medical Xpress)—Controlling the symptoms of schizophrenia is the job of antipsychotic drugs which block a set of specific neural signals. But the way these drugs work can lead to a host of severe and debilitating long-term motor side-effects.

Current antipsychotic drugs receptors known as Dopamine receptor D2 (D2R). These receptors are responsible for the function of our and affect processes such as reward, motivation and cognition. Blocking these signals reduces the symptoms associated with schizophrenia but can cause movement problems similar to Parkinson's disease, weight gain and diabetes, and lower life expectancy.

Now psychologists at The University of Nottingham have made a discovery which could help in the search for drugs which would work without targeting such critical cellular functions. Their research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, has been published in the academic journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

It is commonly thought that symptoms of schizophrenia arise as a consequence of increased dopamine transmission and that antipsychotic drugs alleviate symptoms by blocking this activity. The study team used D-amphetamine (a drug that can induce psychotic symptoms in humans) to model psychotic symptoms seen in schizophrenia in an animal model. D-amphetamine increases dopamine release disrupting the mouse's ability to ignore relevant stimuli in the environment. This effect is reversed by administering antipsychotic drugs.

The research team was surprised to see the same behavioural effect in mice with D2 receptors genetically deleted. Their discovery suggests that this model could be used to identify new non-D2 drug targets that could influence the symptoms of schizophrenia without the side-effects that are seen in current drug treatments.

The research was led by Dr Paula Moran, an expert in psychopharmacology. She said: "Our study shows the very surprising finding that antipsychotic drugs haloperidol and clozapine can reduce amphetamine-induced disruption of the ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli in mice that have D2 receptors genetically deleted. This suggests that these drugs can have behavioural effects without interacting with . It has always been assumed that DRD2 is necessary for behavioural effects of . These data also suggest the model could be used to identify novel non-D2 that could influence specific psychological processes associated with dysregulation of dopamine without interaction with DRD2."

Explore further: Group Therapy: New approach to psychosis treatment could target multiple nervous system receptors

More information: www.nature.com/npp/journal/vao … full/npp201350a.html

Related Stories

Group Therapy: New approach to psychosis treatment could target multiple nervous system receptors

February 1, 2013
Antipsychotic drugs, used in the treatment of psychotic disorders involving severe delusions and hallucinations, have been studied for more than 70 years. Currently available antipsychotic drugs, however, only alleviate certain ...

Building a better antipsychotic drug by treating schizophrenia's cause

August 24, 2011
The classic symptoms of schizophrenia – paranoia, hallucinations, the inability to function socially—can be managed with antipsychotic drugs. But exactly how these drugs work has long been a mystery.

Receptor limits the rewarding effects of food and cocaine

July 12, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers have long known that dopamine, a brain chemical that plays important roles in the control of normal movement, and in pleasure, reward and motivation, also plays a central role in substance ...

Researchers identify new drug target for schizophrenia

August 13, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine may have discovered why certain drugs to treat schizophrenia are ineffective in some patients. Published online in Nature Neuroscience, the research will pave ...

Recommended for you

Babies can learn that hard work pays off

September 21, 2017
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. A new study from MIT reveals that babies as young as 15 months can learn to follow this advice. The researchers found that babies who watched an adult struggle at two different ...

Study links brain inflammation to suicidal thinking in depression

September 21, 2017
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have increased brain levels of a marker of microglial activation, a sign of inflammation, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry by researchers at the University of ...

Oxytocin turns up the volume of your social environment

September 20, 2017
Before you shop for the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin to relieve stress and enhance your social life, read this: a new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that sometimes, blocking the action of oxytocin in ...

Researchers develop new tool to assess individual's level of wisdom

September 20, 2017
Researchers at University of San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new tool called the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) to assess an individual's level of wisdom, based upon a conceptualization of wisdom as a trait ...

Alcohol use affects levels of cholesterol regulator through epigenetics

September 20, 2017
In an analysis of the epigenomes of people and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the National Institutes of Health report that drinking alcohol may induce changes to a cholesterol-regulating gene.

Self-control may not diminish throughout the day

September 20, 2017
After a long day of work and carefully watching what you eat, you might expect your self-control to slip a little by kicking back and cracking open a bag of potato chips.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.