February 07, 2006

Researchers Seek Drugs for improved Cognition

Psychiatry Online has a good story about the search for new medications that will minimize or eliminate the cogitive deficits that schizophrenia causes in many people. The story reports:

Targeting cognitive impairments represents a new way of thinking about the deficits in schizophrenia as separate domains of disability, each with a unique neurobiology.

Most coffee drinkers can testify to the effect of that first cup on the ability to focus and concentrate on the day's tasks. In an aging population, the ability to enhance cognition in the same way but with more lasting effects through pharmaceuticals—improving memory, sharpening attention, maximizing problem-solving skills—would seem to point in the direction of large market opportunity.

For patients with schizophrenia, such a breakthrough would be a windfall of another sort: a substantial body of literature has shown it is the negative symptoms and cognitive impairments of the disorder that contribute most to poor functional outcome and diminished quality of life.

Yet more than a decade of basic research on the neurobiology of cognition in schizophrenia has resulted in few clinical trials of agents targeting cognitive impairments. Fifty years after the introduction of Thorazine and the continual refinement of drugs targeting hallucinations and other positive symptoms, the real functional recovery of patients—in terms of employment and independent living—remains for the great majority not significantly better than it was in 1954.

In the face of this, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has mounted a small-scale neurobiological "Manhattan Project," bringing together industry, academic researchers, and regulatory authorities to foster development of drugs that target the cognitive impairments of schizophrenia.

Read Full Story: Researchers Targeting Schizophrenia Cognition
Source: Psychiatry Online



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