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Schizophrenia - Better Treatments on The Horizon


Ever since it’s discovery in the early 20th century, Schizophrenia remains a difficult mental disorder to assess with few treatment options. Typically, your psychiatrist will use a type of medication called atypical antipsychotics that will treat your psychotic symptoms and reduce the risk of future psychotic episodes. He or she may have put you on drugs such as Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Geodon, Abilify and Invega. These medications are safer than their typical antipsychotic predecessors, but can still have serious side effects such as stroke, diabetes, tardive dyskinesia and weight gain. However, thanks to medical research, you can look forward to better treatment methods for dealing with your mental illness.

Scientists today believe that studying the genome can allow us to understand better why certain people are susceptible to mental illnesses. For example, in the journal Nature, a research group found 83 new genetic locations associated with Schizophrenia that were not previously reported. And in Psychiatric Genetics, researchers discovered “that people with a variant in the (GRM3) gene have a 2- to 3-fold increased risk of developing schizophrenia or alcohol dependence and about a 3-fold increased risk of developing bipolar disorder.” The question is, what do these complex scientific discoveries mean?

David Curtis, MD, PhD, FRCPsych, from University College London in the United Kingdom says that "We could be looking at the next big drug target for treating mental illness.” “Longer term," Dr. Curtis said, "it should help us understand what goes wrong in schizophrenia and assist us in developing new and better treatments”. Dr. Curtis believes that the best place to start would be to create drugs that address the genetic problem directly.

Unfortunately, the common drug treatments for Schizophrenia haven’t changed much, which is why it is important for the research effort to continue. The team at the Medical Research Group of Central Florida is proud to be part of this effort. In our newest study called Pharmacogenomics, we are able to determine the optimal treatment plan for an individual by identifying their genes from a human sample of a mouth swab. This effort is currently ongoing, and is of great benefit if you want to know what medications will work best for you. We also are conducting a schizophrenia study for people ages 13-65 who are dealing with Schizophrenia disorder. Call or click today to learn more about our efforts and how you can enroll in either our Schizophrenia or DNA testing studies.

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