July 30, 2004

Schizophrenia Gene Defect in Mice

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
There's a new face in schizophrenia research - assistant professor Jeffrey Eells at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine recently received $55,000 from NARSAD. He is studying a particular strain of mice that show a gene mutation similar to one seen in humans with schizophrenia. Mice don't generally share their psychotic symptoms, so Eells is using other techniques to determine the mutant gene's effect. Specifically, he looks at an altered "prepulse inhibition" that is similar to what is observed in schizophrenia patients. "Prepulse Inhibition" is seen when a mild sensory event (the prepulse) is presented a short time interval before Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2004

Beneficial Fats May be Added to Plants

Research has shown many possible health benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids, from cardiovascular function to cancer protection to improved mental health. Some studies have even specifically targeted schizophrenia patients, and have found that a diet high in omega-3 may help patients derive more symptom control benefits from medication. Omega-3 acids are produced naturally in fish oils; however, scientists are now looking at bioengineering certain plants to produce them as well. Plants make natural precursors for the beneficial fats, but don't produce the long acid chains. UK scientists recently inserted three genes into a mouse ear cress plant, allowing it Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:36 PM | Comments (1)

July 26, 2004

Risperdal increases warnings

Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, the maker of the atypical anti-psychotic Risperdal (risperidone), is revising its warnings after FDA claims that the company downplayed potential safety risks. Although Janssen updated their warning labels in 2003 after a general FDA request to several drug companies, FDA officials maintained that Risperdal labels and promotional material did not accurately portray the risk of strokes, diabetes, and other complications for healthcare consumers. The company also allegedly made claims that their drug was safer than other available anti-psychotics. In answer, the company recently released a two-page report to health care professionals, re-stating the potential risks for patients Read More...
Posted by Julia at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2004

Genome affects disease in new ways

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
Human genome cracked? Not quite. Scientists in Europe recently launched the "human epigenome project." Epigenome refers to a "hidden" genetic code, not the one that contains information for building protein molecules, but the one that determines when those genes are turned on or off. The epigenetic code is now being implicated as a probable cause for numerous disease, schizophrenia among them. For example, in a recent twin study, one brother is healthy while the other is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Because they are identical twins, they should have exactly the same genetic code. Well, almost. The surface genomes - the one Read More...
Posted by Julia at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

Meds May Prevent Violence

A recent homicide case in Cincinnati has once again reminded mental illness advocates and the general public that refusal to take medication is the main cause of violent acts from people with mental illness. Ohio resident Charles A. McCoy, described as "loving and sweet" by family members, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He went through long periods without medication, despite his families best efforts. He is currently charged with killing an 85-year-old friend. The vicious cycle cited by mental health advocates is a familiar one to most affected families: "The delusions convince the person that there is no illness. Worse, Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2004

Disease-Management Program in TX

The state of Texas has recently overhauled its mental health care system for the most severely mentally ill. By legislative order, all state-run clinics will implement a disease-management treatment model, beginning Sept. 1 2004. Disease-management has been used successfully to treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes, but until now has not been implemented much in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. The model helps patients deal with daily life by "using scientifically proven methods and working with patients outside of clinics," says Janet Heimlich of NPR news, who covered the Texas story on a recent All Things Considered segment. Sam Shore Read More...
Posted by Julia at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2004

Bill to prevent teen suicide

The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, sponsored by Oregon senator Gordon Smith in honor of his late son, would allow $60 million dollars in funding to help states develop suicide prevention strategies and create more mental health services on college campuses. 21-year-old Garrett Smith committed suicide in his apartment last year. He suffered from bipolar disorder and various learning disabilities. Suicide is an all-too-common tragic end for people suffering from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression. According to Dr. E. Fuller Torrey in his book "Surviving Schizophrenia, "suicide is the number one cause of premature death Read More...
Posted by Julia at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2004

Tool Measures Neuron Response in Mice

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
Dr. Alison Barth and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a measuring system that can pinpoint individual neuron responses in the brain. The researchers hope that such sensitive measuring devices will assist in the development of better, more targeted treatment for brain diseases such as schizophrenia. "If you look at a condition like anxiety, for example, when you make a person anxious there are particular neurons that respond to that feeling but it's not necessarily that all of the cells are responding in the same way," said Barth. "What this tool does is it allows you to find the Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2004

Geodon in Malaysia

As of May 2004, the anti-psychotic ziprasidone (Geodon) is available for patients in Malaysia. It is the first oral and intramuscular treatment for schizophrenia available in the country. According to study results released at the launch of the new drug, ziprasidone has equal efficacy and fewer side effects as compared to olanzapine and risperidone. The Malaysian Ministry of Health is now looking to control the price of the new drug, so that more patients can afford it as a reasonable option. For the full news article, see Medical Tribune (http://www.medicaltribune.net). Article: "A better drug for schizophrenia now available" (May 1, Read More...
Posted by Julia at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

Stronger Evidence for Pot-Psychosis Link

After being downgraded to a Grade C drug last year in the UK (as classified under the British Misuse of Drugs Act 1971), cannabis is once again implicated as a primary trigger for schizophrenia-like symptoms, paranoia, and memory problems. Psychiatrist Robin Murray stated that up to 80% of the new admits to mental health wards have a history of smoking pot. A new study from Yale University school of medicine showed that psychotic symptoms (paranoia, hallucinations, disrodered thoughts, concentration problems, memory loss) were induced in healthy volunteers by injecting them with the active ingredient of cannabis (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). None of the Read More...
Posted by Julia at 06:21 PM | Comments (9)

July 13, 2004

How Far Should Confidentiality Extend?

Following the suicide of a 24-year-old mental health patient on the grounds of Calvary Hospital, the woman's family and the Canberra coroner are charging that the need to protect and care for a patient should override a patient's right to privacy. The woman's treating psychiatrist did not inform her parents that her diagnoses had been changed from bipolar disorder to schizo-affective disorder, "because of a need to protect patient confidentiality and maintain her dignity." They were also not informed by the hospital staff of their daughter's suicidal intentions. Other concerns raised by the family in court included the lack of Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

Academic Success and Schizophrenia

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
Recently, there have been several good articles on Psychosis, Schizophrenia and possible beneficial effects of genes associated with these disorder. In the first article,JON L. KARLSSON from the Institute of Genetics,Reykjavik, Iceland,has accompished a study that supports this old Hypothesis that psychosis genes might be associated with beneficial effects,as he has found that close relatives of successful students showed increased risks of psychosis. Individuals who subsequently developed psychosis and relatives of people with psychosis excelled in school performance, particularly in mathematics. He has concluded that that stimulation associated with psychotic tendencies enhances performance in academic settings. British Journal of Psychiatry, Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 04:08 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2004

Database for Brain Disorders

IBM and the Brain Resource Company (Sydney, Australia) have recently released the "IntegNeuro" kiosk, a desktop lab that will allow trained practitioners to test patients for a variety of brain disorders from within a hospital or clinic, simply by matching the patient's data to a comprehensive international database. Dr. David Dembo of IBM's health informatics unit is encouraging about shifting healthcare to a "proactive science" that utilizes data management technology to screen and diagnose a wider variety of patients. "Because of our new understanding of genetic predispositions and having a database like BRC's where you have a comparator of normative Read More...
Posted by Julia at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2004

Pills to Boost Brainpower

With all the anti-aging, appearance-altering, and self-improvement products currently on the market, maybe it's no surprise that scientists are in the early stages of developing drugs meant to improve mental ability. There's no doubt that such a drug would appeal to many people trying to avoid the natural "cognitive decline" that comes with aging, particularly in a world that is moving faster, working longer, and sleeping less. However, the people with clear potential to benefit are those living with cognitive deficits outside the normal range - traumatic brain injury victims and the mentally ill. According to John Tallman, CEO of Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:48 PM | Comments (1)

July 08, 2004

Children await mental health services in detention

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have recently commissioned the first Congressional investigation into children with mental health needs improperly incarcerated and forced to wait for services in juvenile detention centers. The report findings were staggering. Key statistics include the following: -Over a 6-month period, nearly 15,000 youth in detention centers were waiting for mental health services. The number of youth waiting in detention each night for needed services represents about 7% of all incarcerated youth. -While waiting in detention for health services, youth in over 160 facilities attempted suicide. Research indicates that youth in detention commit Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:15 PM | Comments (1)

Enzyme linked to suicide

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
Reduced levels of brain enzyme Protein kinase C (PKC) may contribute to suicidal behavior, new research shows. PKC is an enzyme that promotes neuron communication in the brain; it has been previously linked to depression and other mood disorders. A study at the University of Illinois examined the brains of 34 teenage subjects; 17 had committed suicide, the others had died from other causes. The levels of PKC were significantly lower in the brains of the suicide victims (9 of which had a history of mental disorder, and 2 more of which suffered from substance abuse). The causal link - Read More...
Posted by Julia at 04:56 PM | Comments (1)

July 07, 2004

Canadian Gov Sues TrueHope for False Claims

Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd, the developers and distributors of nutritional supplement EmpowerPlus, is facing charges under the Food and Drug Act for marketing their product without Canadian goverment approval. The Alberta-based company claims that Empowerplus, a supplement which about 36 common vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants (the exact vitamins they include will not be disclosed by the company), is a cure for a variety of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. However, the Canadian government charges that the company lacks the compelling scientific evidence to back up their product claims. Opinions regarding Empowerplus and the Canadian lawsuit come from all sides. Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:33 PM | Comments (2)

Antipsychotic Iloperidone in Development

Iloperidone is a novel antipsychotic currently in Phase III clinical trials. It has been shown to selectively block subsets of human dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine receptors. Early results suggest that iloperidone may be able to treat a broad range of positive, negative, depressive, and cognitive symptoms of schizophenria, with a low incidence of side effects. The following is Titan Pharma's Marketing/Press release acquired from Titan Pharmaceuticals (http://www.titanpharm.com/press/IloperidoneLicense.htm). Originally released June 9, 2004 Titan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ASE:TTP) today announced that Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has acquired the worldwide rights to develop and commercialize iloperidone, Titan?s proprietary antipsychotic agent in Phase III clinical Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:06 PM | Comments (11)

Tips for moms of mentally ill kids

Judith S. Lederman, author of "The Ups & Downs of Raising a Bipolar Child: A Survival Guide for Parents," knows how difficult it can be to mother a mentally ill child. Her own child was diagnosed with manic depression at the age of eight. "While every mother has difficult challenges to face, the mother of a child with mental illness too often plays the martyr," explains Lederman, who co-wrote her book with child psychiatrist, Dr. Candida Fink. "These moms feel overwhelmed. The illness is not one they publicize and so they lack support. They frequently must deal with hospitalizing their Read More...
Posted by Julia at 04:35 PM | Comments (3)

July 06, 2004

Abnormalities in Children of Schizophrenic Mothers

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
New evidence just in for the role of heredity in schizophrenia. A study in the American Journal of Psychology shows that an significantly increased percentage of offspring from mothers with schizophrenia have neurological abnormalities, as compared to the offspring of normal mothers OR to the offspring of mothers with affective psychosis. The study evaluated the children of mothers with schizophrenia, mothers with affective psychosis, and mothers with no history of psychiatric disorder. The children were tested for neurological abnormalities (such as primitive reflexes, involuntary movement, and cranial nerve abnormalities) at infancy, age 6, and young adulthood (mean age 22.4 years). Read More...
Posted by Julia at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2004

Stigma at Work

Recent statistics estimate that a quarter of all people are likely to suffer from a mental health problem. For this population, discrimination in the workplace remain a very real problem. The save survey estimates that one in three of those experiencing mental health problems will be bullied or harrassed by bosses or coworkers. Due to such stigma, mental health advocates say, much productive talent is wasted because people who suffer mental illness are afraid to reveal their problems to employers on job applications, during interviews, or when up for promotion. To address this problem, a recently launched UK-based campaign addresses Read More...
Posted by Julia at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

Growing Empathy for Mentally Ill

It's nice to know that all the efforts to promote understanding and fight the stigma of mental illness are having some positive results. According to a Houston Area Survey in March of this year, 63% of respondants said that mental illness is primarily due to a brain disorder (click here to see a pie chart of the survey results). According to Stephen Klineberg, a Rice University sociology professor, "[t]he findings demonstrate an "evolving understanding" of mental illness that has markedly improved since a 1996 national survey showed 35 percent of people surveyed attributed mental illness to sinful or immoral behavior." Read More...
Posted by Julia at 12:55 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2004

Visual processing deficits in Schizophrenia

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
Pam Butler, a researcher at the Nathan Kline Institute of Psychiatric Research, will use a $1.65 million NIMH grant to study visual processing abnormalities in schizophrenia patients. Dr. Butler has already seen evidence that such patients often can't identify objects as well or as quickly as people without the disorder. She pinpoints the problem as a processing difficulty rather than a strict sight problem. "What we are finding is that these people can see fine," Butler said. "But there are subtle changes that happen in one of the visual pathways." She is conducting her study with MRI brain imaging techniques Read More...
Posted by Julia at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

New 'Repeat Offender' Bill Will Help Convicts Rehabilitate

In an effort to address the revolving-door phenomenon of American prisons - convicts who return to prison for repeated offenses shortly after being released - Congress is considering legislation that will aid both mentally ill and other prisoners to rejoin society. The Second Chance Act (backed by Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio and Rep. Danny Davis of Illiniois) calls for $112 million over two years to create drug treatment and mentoring programs for newly released felons. According to the New York Times Editorial article ("The Price of Prisons", June 26 2004), such an investment is well worth the potential savings Read More...
Posted by Julia at 06:06 PM | Comments (1)

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