December 07, 2007

"Special K" and Possible New Therapies For Treating Schizophrenia

It's known that the street drug "Special K", proper name ketamine, though initially created for anesthetic purposes, because of its hallucinogenic qualities is used as a recreational drug. Unfortunately, and as we've covered in the past, ketamine is known to induce psychosis including schizophrenia-like symptoms in its users. Interestingly enough, scientists have been able to use the psychosis-inducing aspects of ketamine to better understand the way schizophrenia effects certain functions of the brain. Scientists are saying that this increased understanding may lend itself to the development of new treatments for the illness.

In order to study the effects of psychosis on the brain, scientists at UCSD performed a study, (published in this month's issue of the journal Science), where they injected ketamine into mice to create schizophrenia type symptoms. They noticed the increase of a chemical known as "superoxide" in the brains of the injected mice. Superoxide is a toxic, highly reactive chemical created in the brain by an inflammatory enzyme. Apparently, an increase in superoxide results in the loss of "a specific subset of cells in a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex."

This finding lead the scientists to a drug known as a Nox inhibitor. The researchers believe that if they use the Nox inhibitor, a drug which has the ability of not only targeting the inflammatory enzyme which creates superoxide, but also of destorying superoxide itself, they could prevent the loss of cells in the prefrontal cortex. This idea then lead scientists to believe that drugs or antioxidants related to the Nox inhibitor may be able to "mop up the superoxide," and potentially "provide future treatments for drug-induced psychosis or schizophrenia."

Perhaps the most intriguing finding in this study, is that the inflammatory enzyme which produces superoxide, called NADPH oxidase, usually has a protective function in the brain. NADPH oxidase "is normally found in white blood cells circulating outside the brain, where it helps kill bacterial and fungal infections by producing superoxide." Thus researchers were surprised to find that NADPH oxidase "is also critical for modulating signaling in the brain." The researchers believe that future, more effective therapies for schizophrenia can be conceived through the use of compounds that inhibit NADPH oxidase without eliminating its protective function.

Ketamine-Induced Loss of Phenotype of Fast-Spiking Interneurons Is Mediated by NADPH-Oxidase. Behrens, M., et al (Science)


Very interesting.

SRF rolled out a review of the paper, with three comments at once:

Posted by: CopperKettle at December 10, 2007 05:51 AM

What i don't get is why all the research groups suggest that the prevention of cell loss and anti inflmatory mesures are the current research goals.
Where is the research that is looking at regeneration properties of cells with regards to schizophrenia in terms of cuasing better regeneration.
From what i can gather the brain is a highly regenerative organ yet in most of the research preposed it's almost as if researchers are looking at ways to make this property stagnent.
For example in your report on omeaga 3 fish oils you said that some researcher were suggesting only low levels of DHA and high EPA.
Current drugs work on dopamine inhabition and serotonin inhabition.
If you look at some of the major genes targeted they are suggesting that there is to caotic a regeneration process in the onset of schizophrenia.
To All these researchers it may seem inportant to stop the process symptoms but to me it's far more important to understand the underlying genetic and enviromental processes as to how the brain develops inproperly and what the best brain development processes would actually be.
Simply treating things this way in my opinion is like killing evolution and might yet create even more problems.
For example such oxidents might very well help against the build up of plak and hence help prevent Altzimers.
On the other hand such oxidents might destroy vital regenerative prosses and cause a higher inncident of parkinsons.
I admit this is all speculation.
However i do believe i have at present a good argument in stating the research perspective to be to stringent and the topic of mental health to be greatly needing a more diverse research approach.
I await more data with regards to NADPH oxidase research but am not as optimistic with such approches as others might be.

You have my promission to remove this little statement here. Don't you dare delete this view point here it is relevent.

Posted by: Luke Andrew Marsh at December 10, 2007 09:52 AM

I was wondering if what you are saying is that ketamine can cause psychosis or other types of mental illness. I once found a book called "How to have an out of body experience". Some time after this my son started becoming very depressed, would not work for any length of time saying that he was a loner. Once told me a grandiose idea and spoke of being psychic at least two different times. He would stay on the computer all the time and had a fairly high IQ. He would not talk. Recently I was looking thru one of these books online and noticed the book talked about using Ketamine to achieve this. He recently committed suicide and I was trying to find out what caused this. We have a family history of my uncle and my grandfather having aggressive behaviors late in life and my father was not looking forward to old age due to he thought he would get it. I am just wanting to know if my son used ketamine and caused this or if it is our family history. Any answers would be appreciated. Thanks

Posted by: Sherry Graham at January 29, 2008 04:43 PM

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