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New model to study schizophrenia has been developed

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According to an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have made significant progress in schizophrenia research. Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder associated with paranoia and disorganized thinking and speech, as well as social and occupational dysfunction. Although there is a treatment that relieves symptoms, drugs used to treat schizophrenia have many side effects. Statistics show that because of this, schizophrenia is among the top ten causes of disability in developed countries. In addition , the chances of full recovery are only 30%, as shown by studies.

Thomas Albright and Ricardo Gil -da -Costa, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, developed a model system that integrates cellular and human studies of schizophrenia. They hope that with the new model, which involves monitoring the brain activity, to accelerate research on schizophrenia and other neurological diseases. Albright said that one of the issues of schizophrenia is that it cannot integrate sensory information, so they created a model to test the ability to make sensory integration. Schizophrenia is a mental condition usually associated with hallucinations, paranoia, disorganized speech etc. It is not clear why the disease occurs, but it is believed that one possible cause is due to an excess of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Although drugs that block dopamine are effective in treating this disease , they have many severe side effects, which raised the question of whether other mechanisms are involved.

schizophreniaSignificant progress in understanding schizophrenia was made in 1956 , with the development of phencyclidine . This drug was given to patients during surgery, but when they woke up they had symptoms similar to those patients with schizophrenia have, that is disorientation and hallucinations. These side effects made phencyclidine be abandoned, and 10 years later the drug was replaced with ketamine, a derivative. At high doses, ketamine is an effective anesthetic, but in low doses, ketamine has the same effects phencyclidine has ( hallucinations , disorientation , etc).

The two drugs are N -methyl -D- aspartate receptor antagonists, and interfere with the mechanism by which glutamate (excitatory neurotransmitter ) enters the cells of the brain. Albright pointed out that any dysfunction in glutamate may be associated with symptoms that we see in schizophrenia or schizophrenia-related diseases.  He added that it is not known which of these neurotransmitters , glutamate and dopamine, was primary to these disorders. According to statistics, schizophrenia affects about 1 % of the world population, and in the United States there are about 3 million people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The costs are enormous : it seems that in 2002 in America there were spent about 63 million dollars for the treatment and care of people with schizophrenia.