November 27, 2004

New Class of Psych Drugs on Horizon

The information in the following story was contained in an email sent to the administrative inbox as a "UBC Media Release". I was unable to find any sort of published research or other news releases, so I assume it is still in the preliminary stages of development.

Scientists at the Brain Research Centre in Vancouver, Canada, are attempting to develop a new class of "smart" drugs for psychiatric disorders. These medications would target specific brain cells, rather than mimicking the generalized neurotransmitter and receptor actions of current psychiatric drugs.

Says neuroscientist and research team leader Yu Tian Wang, "the new drugs would be the first significant change in decades to medications used to treat psychiatric disorders."

The major difference is in the specificity of action. These newer drugs would hopefully be targeted specifically at brain cells that need repairs, reducing the potential for side effects in other areas of the brain. Current medications are capable of beneficially rebalancing neurotransmitter and cellular communication in some areas of the brain; however, because their effects are not regionally limited, they can cause unforeseen imbalances in other parts of the brain as well.

According to Dr. Wang's estimate, the drugs may go into early clinical trials within the next three years, and could be ready for consumer use within the next 5-10 years.

Information about the Brain Research Centre:

The Brain Research Centre, located at UBC Hospital, comprises more than 160 investigators with multidisciplinary expertise in neuroscience research ranging from the test tube, to the bedside, to industrial spin-offs.

NeuroScience Canada's Brain Repair Program is an $8-million program that has received major support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to support Canada's world-class neuroscience researchers. Further information about the NeuroScience Canada awards may be found at

NeuroScience Canada was founded in1988 and uses private, corporate and government funding to support research on mechanisms that protect and repair the brain and nervous system.

CIHR is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. VCHRI is a joint venture between UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health that promotes development of new researchers and research activity.


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