March 23, 2004


The March 6th issue of New Scientist magazine has an article on how the next round of breakthrough drugs for schizophrenia (and other, related disorders) may be targeted at Glutamate in the brain.

The story - titled "The master switch" states that the brain's central circuits were once a no-go area for drug treatments. But not any more, and there could be a medical revolution in the making.

"Lilly, and most of its competitors, now believe that this circuit is the key to a new class of molecule that will revolutionise the treatment of mental illness -- including many currently intractable or poorly treated diseases such as addiction, anxiety, schizophrenia, epilepsy and chronic pain. Almost every major pharmaceutical company is developing similar molecules. And while none is yet close to the market, some neuroscientists believe they will be the biggest shake-up in central nervous system medicine for decades.

The compounds that are getting neuroscientists excited are based on glutamate, the brain's primary neurotransmitter, or communication molecule. Just about every circuit in the central nervous system uses glutamate, so in theory, drugs that target glutamate signalling have the potential to treat almost any brain disorder."

Bita Moghaddam, a neuroscientist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, suggests in the article that this has the potential to be a major move forward for treatment of schizophrenia - and states that "We are stuck on serotonin for depression, dopamine for schizophrenia and GABA for anxiety. This is the first time we're going beyond these old ideas."

He further states that "there is a lot of evidence to show that an underactive glutamate system plays a big role in the disease. For example, if you give healthy people drugs that block glutamate receptors, they become psychotic."


"Scientific American" had an article about schizophrenia a month or 2 ago which included some information about glutamate receptors and mental illness. It included some medicines in development..Robert

Posted by: Robert at March 27, 2004 02:49 PM

Robert - thanks - yes we've got links to the Scientific American Article in the Newsletter section of the site, as well as in Diagnosis. It was a good article.


Posted by: SZAdmin at March 30, 2004 05:12 PM

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