Breakthrough in strategy used to develop new pharmacological treatments for schizophrenia
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Selzentry (maraviroc) full (traditional) approval for use in treatment-experienced adults with CCR5-tropic HIV-1 in combination with other antiretrovirals. Selzentry was originally granted accelerated conditional approval in August 2007 based on 24-week data from pivotal Phase 3 studies. Selzentry now becomes the latest fully approved treatment for
Full Post: Selzentry (maraviroc) becomes fully approved HIV antiretrovial
In one of the first instances of targeted drug design in psychiatric treatment, University of Pittsburgh researchers have found an experimental agent that shows promise in addressing working memory impairments that occur in schizophrenia.
The study breaks new ground in the strategy used to develop new pharmacological treatments for schizophrenia, explained David Lewis, M.D., UPMC Endowed Chair in Translational Neuroscience in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and lead author of the study that appears in this month’s American Journal of Psychiatry .
“The drugs we use now to treat psychiatric disorders are based on serendipitous discoveries made several decades ago,” he said. “In contrast, in this study we have identified a faulty brain circuit in schizophrenia, found an agent with characteristics that affect a specific molecular target in that circuit, and then tested it to see what happened.”
The effectiveness of the experimental drug on cognition was measured with well-established tests of working memory and with EEG, or electroencephalogram, rather than solely with standard clinical assessment.
Earlier research indicated that a reduction of signaling by the neurotransmitter GABA in circuits in an area of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex may be to blame for some of the cognitive problems in schizophrenia, Dr. Lewis explained.
To compensate for the lower levels of GABA, it appears that a biochemical feedback loop increases the number of a specific type of GABA receptor on neurons to capture more neurotransmitter. The study drug, MK-0777, binds to the alpha-2 subunit of the GABAA receptor and, when GABA is present, increases the flow of ions through the receptor, in essence “turning up the volume” on GABA signaling.
For the study, 15 men with schizophrenia between the ages of 18 and 50 were randomly assigned to take either MK-0777 or a placebo for four weeks. They underwent neuropsychological tests at baseline, two weeks and four weeks after starting the drug, as well as an EEG assessment while doing a cognitive task.
The researchers found that participants who took MK-0777 had improvements in both working memory, meaning the ability to keep information in mind to guide behavior, and the EEG signal that accompanies working memory. Also, the drug was well tolerated. Still, because the study is small, more trials will have to be done to verify the value of the experimental compound, Dr. Lewis noted.
A collaborative study led by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is giving what may be the first look at how interactions between genes underlie a key symptom of schizophrenia, impaired working memory. Functional imaging studies reveal how a combination of common variants in two genes is associated with reduced activity of important brain structures
Full Post: Interaction between gene variants may alter brain function in schizophrenia
A factor that helps optimize brain formation and function may also provide clues about whether patients suffering with schizophrenia are headed toward relapse, researchers say. Over the next two- and one-half years, they are regularly measuring levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, in the blood of patients with schizophrenia to see if the pattern
Full Post: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor may predict schizophrenia relapse
Memory Pharmaceuticals Corp. has announced the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 7,429,664, which provides composition of matter patent protection for a series of nicotinic alpha-7 receptor agonists. These include R3487/MEM 3454 and R4996/MEM 63908, which are both being developed in partnership with Roche for the treatment of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and
Full Post: Memory Pharmaceuticals issued key U.S. patent for series of nicotinic alpha-7 receptor agonists
A large proteomics study on the brains of newborn mice provides more evidence that numbing drugs often used in obstetric or pediatric medicine can have profound and long-term negative effects, even after minimal exposure. This study, appearing in the December issue of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics , highlights the delicate state of the developing nervous
Full Post: Numbing drugs can have profound and long-term negative effects
Roche and Memory Pharmaceuticals has announced that the two companies have signed a definitive merger agreement for Roche to acquire all the outstanding shares of Memory Pharmaceuticals in an all-cash transaction for an aggregate price of approximately USD 50 million. Memory Pharmaceuticals develops innovative drug candidates for the treatment of debilitating central nervous system (CNS)
Full Post: Roche to acquire Memory Pharmaceuticals