Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How learning and memory may be improved in schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "Institute-supported PhD student Natalie Matosin has been working on finding molecules in the brain that are altered in schizophrenia in order to identify new drug targets with the potential to improve the cognitive and negative symptoms associated with the disorder. Along with her supervisors, Dr Kelly Newell and Dr Francesca Fernandez, she has been looking specifically at a receptor in the brain, the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5, or mGluR5.
Together with NeuRA scientists, Dr Samantha Fung and Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert, Ms Matosin and her team assessed the levels of mGluR5 in the postmortem brains of people that had schizophrenia, and found that in the frontal cortex and hippocampus there were greater numbers of the receptor mGluR5. Since these changes are in brain regions involved in learning and memory, this led our researchers to believe that these changes in mGluR5 might be contributing to the poor cognitive functioning seen in many people with schizophrenia." This sounds promising if it can help with memory and help with negative symptoms that would be great. Learning it was harder with this illness than when I did not have it even thought I feel I had symptoms of this illness growing up.
The article ends with: "In trying to understand why this receptor was expressed abnormally in schizophrenia brains, Ms Matosin, Dr Francesca Fernandez and the team worked with the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank and Associate Professor Melissa Green to better understand whether the dysregulation of the mGluR5 receptor might originate in the mGluR5 gene. They found markers within the gene that are associated with schizophrenia in men, and a complex relationship with measures of cognitive functions such as working memory and measures of IQ, which differently affect men and women with schizophrenia. This supports the idea that mGluR5 is involved in the development of cognitive dysfunction, particularly memory and learning, in people with schizophrenia.
'mGluR5 represents a valuable new drug target to treat the cognitive deficits in people with schizophrenia,” says Ms Matosin. “It’s likely that because every schizophrenia sufferer is an individual with their own set of symptoms and causes, that it will work only in a subset of people with schizophrenia. Therefore future studies will need to find a way to identify this subset, so that they can benefit from mGluR5-based treatments.'" That it will only work with certain people of this illness I believe.  My memory of numbers is still working good. I practice working on my memory so I do not know if I lose any or not. I just know that numbers I have always been great with.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Have scientists discovered what causes schizophrenia? Condition may occur because 'gene mutations disrupt chemical balance of the brain'

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "Schizophrenia may be caused by mutations in genes which disrupt the chemical balance in the brain, according to new research.  Scientists say the study produces the 'strongest evidence yet' of what causes the condition, which affects around one per cent of the global population.  They found people with schizophrenia had mutations in their DNA.  These in turn, disrupted genes involved in the transmission of chemical messengers across the brain. The balance of the messengers plays a crucial role in ensuring the brain develops healthily and functions normally.  Some chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters, 'excite' brain cells into an action, whereas other 'inhibit' the activity of cells, Disruptions to neurotransmitters can therefore change whether cells function, and researchers believe this may be what causes schizophrenia.  They called the finding a 'breakthrough' and said they hoped it could help develop new treatments for the disease. 'We're finally starting to understand what goes wrong in schizophrenia,' said lead author Dr Andrew Pocklington, of Cardiff University."  Well they always said it was a chemical imbalance so I guess they are right.  Now we can hope for better treatments I hope.
The article goes on to say: "What is Schizophrenia?  Schizoprhenia is a long-term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms, including: hallucinations-hearing or seeing things that do not exist, delusions - unusual beliefs not based on reality that often contradict the evidence, muddled thoughts based on hallucinations of delusions, changes in behavior.  Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a psychotic illness.  This means sometimes a person may not be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality. 'Our study marks a significant step towards understanding the biology underpinning schizophrenia.  'It is an incredibly complex condition and has up until very recently kept scientists largely mystified as to its origins.  ' We now have what we hope is a pretty sizable piece of the jigsaw puzzle that will help us develop a coherent model of the disease, while helping us to rule out some of the alternatives.  He added: ' A reliable model of disease is urgently needed to direct future efforts in developing new treatments, which haven't really improved a great deal since the 1970s.'  The first evidence that schizophrenia mutations interfere with excitatory signaling was uncovered in 2011 by the same team.  The new paper not only confirms the previous findings, but also provides the first strong genetic evidence that disruption of genes controlling the actions of chemical messengers contributes to the disorder." I remember when I could not understand reality and also what was happening to me.  I had never had anything like that happen before.
The article ends with: "To reach their conclusions, scientists compared the genetic data of 11,355 patients with schizophrenia against a control group of 16,416 people with the condition.  They looked for types of mutation known as copy number variants (CNVs), mutations in which large stretches of DNA are either deleted or duplicated.  The team compared the CNVs found in people with schizophrenia to those found in unaffected people.  They found the mutations in individuals with the disorder tended to disrupt genes involved in specific aspects of brain function.  These types of mutations are also suspected to be involved in other neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD.  Around 635,000 people in the UK will at some stage in their lives be affected by schizophrenia.  The estimated cost of schizophrenia and psychosis to society  is around  11.8 billion a year.  Schizophrenia can cause hallucinations, delusions, muddled thoughts and changes in behavior.  The symptoms can be extremely disruptive, and have a large impact on a person's ability to carry out everyday tasks, such as going to work, maintaining relationships and caring for themselves of others." Lets hope they figure this out soon.  I like to know before I die that the people after me that have this disease can lead as a good of life as I have with this disease or better.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Weak electric current to the brain may improve thinking in people with schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "Lightly stimulating the brain with electricity may improve short-term memory in people with schizophrenia, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The procedure, known as transcranial direct current stimulation, involves placing sponge-covered electrodes on the head and passing a weak electrical current between them. It is widely regarded as safe, and the procedure is being studied as a treatment for depression and Alzheimer's-related memory loss, and to enhance recovery following strokes. David Schretlen, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reasoned that this type of brain stimulation might ease some of the cognitive difficulties that afflict people with schizophrenia. "Cognitive impairment is as ubiquitous as hallucinations in schizophrenia, yet medications only treat the hallucinations. So even with medication, affected individuals often remain very disabled," Schretlen says. His hope is that transcranial direct current stimulation could give people with schizophrenia a shot at leading a more normal life." I do not know if people with mental illness will try this for their cognitive symptoms. I know that some of them get upset when they have difficulties.
The article goes on to say: "To test that possibility, Schretlen and five Johns Hopkins colleagues targeted a brain region called the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which plays an important role in short-term or working memory and is abnormal in people with schizophrenia. Interestingly, parents, siblings and children of people with schizophrenia show some of the same abnormalities to a lesser degree. Schretlen recruited 11 participants: five adults with confirmed schizophrenia and six of their close relatives. Each participant received two 30-minute treatments -- one using a negative electrical charge, which the researchers thought might prove beneficial -- and the other using a positive charge as a control. During and after each treatment, participants completed a battery of cognitive tests. On tests of verbal and visual working memory, participants performed significantly better after receiving a negative charge, and the effects were "surprisingly strong," says Schretlen." The results seem very good.  How much does working memory improve? Two thirty minute treatments sound like something a person would try if it makes them better.
The article ends with: "Schretlen also tested participants' verbal fluency, or word retrieval, during the treatment. People with schizophrenia often struggle to find the right words, Schretlen explains. Because the prefrontal cortex contains a brain region responsible for word retrieval, Schretlen thought transcranial direct current stimulation might help. To test that theory, he gave participants a minute to list things they could buy in a supermarket. Most people taking the test rattle off items in categories, naming fruits, then vegetables, then dairy products, for example. Schretlen found that while participants did not rattle off more words, they did better at the challenging task of switching between categories after a negatively charged treatment. The stimulation "was associated with better performance on working memory and subtle changes in word retrieval," Schretlen says.
Schretlen is now studying transcranial direct current stimulation in a larger sample of patients using repeated sessions of stimulation, which he hopes will induce lasting benefits. 'What's nice about transcranial direct current stimulation is that it's so benign. There are no bad side effects,' Schretlen says. 'If it enables people with schizophrenia to think more clearly, it would make a huge contribution to the treatment of this devastating illness.'" It would be beneficial to people with mental illness. Switching between categories that does sound good if they could not do that at first. Hopefully this does help.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Scientists produce strongest evidence yet of schizophrenia's causes

That is the title of this article I am writing about today. "An international team of scientists led by Cardiff University researchers has provided the strongest evidence yet of what causes schizophrenia -- a condition that affects around 1% of the global population. Published in the journal Neuron, their work presents strong evidence that disruption of a delicate chemical balance in the brain is heavily implicated in the disorder. In the largest ever study of its kind, the team found that disease-linked mutations disrupt specific sets of genes contributing to excitatory and inhibitory signalling, the balance of which plays a crucial role in healthy brain development and function. The breakthrough builds on two landmark studies led by members of the Cardiff University team, published last year in the journal Nature. "We're finally starting to understand what goes wrong in schizophrenia," says lead author Dr Andrew Pocklington from Cardiff University's MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics. "Our study marks a significant step towards understanding the biology underpinning schizophrenia, which is an incredibly complex condition and has up until very recently kept scientists largely mystified as to its origins. 'We now have what we hope is a pretty sizeable piece of the jigsaw puzzle that will help us develop a coherent model of the disease, while helping us to rule out some of the alternatives.' 'A reliable model of disease is urgently needed to direct future efforts in developing new treatments, which haven't really improved a great deal since the 1970s.' Professor Hugh Perry, who chairs the Medical Research Council Neuroscience and Mental Health Board said: "This work builds on our understanding of the genetic causes of schizophrenia -- unravelling how a combination of genetic faults can disrupt the chemical balance of the brain."  I wonder how long it will take them to find a benefit for people with schizophrenia that will help these people live full lives and live up to their potential. I believe they are getting closer to someday fill in the jigsaw puzzle.
The article goes on to say: "'Scientists in the UK, as part of an international consortium, are uncovering the genetic causes of a range of mental health issues, such as schizophrenia.
'In the future, this work could lead to new ways of predicting an individual's risk of developing schizophrenia and form the basis of new targeted treatments that are based on an individual's genetic makeup.' A healthy brain is able to function properly thanks to a precise balance between chemical signals that excite and inhibit nerve cell activity. Researchers studying psychiatric disorders have previously suspected that disruption of this balance contributes to schizophrenia. The first evidence that schizophrenia mutations interfere with excitatory signalling was uncovered in 2011 by the same team, based at Cardiff University's MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics. This paper not only confirms their previous findings, but also provides the first strong genetic evidence that disruption of inhibitory signalling contributes to the disorder." That will help because each person is different and we lose different things.  My memory of numbers is good. Yet when I try to do math I cannot and I was good in high school. I understand were all different that goes to show in the medication what will help one person will not help another.
The article ends: "To reach their conclusions scientists compared the genetic data of 11,355 patients with schizophrenia against a control group of 16,416 people without the condition. They looked for types of mutation known as copy number variants (CNVs), mutations in which large stretches of DNA are either deleted or duplicated. Comparing the CNVs found in people with schizophrenia to those found in unaffected people, the team was able to show that the mutations in individuals with the disorder tended to disrupt genes involved in specific aspects of brain function. The disease-causing effects of CNVs are also suspected to be involved in other neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. Around 635,000 people in the UK will at some stage in their lives be affected by schizophrenia. The estimated cost of schizophrenia and psychosis to society is around £11.8 billion a year. The symptoms of schizophrenia can be extremely disruptive, and have a large impact on a person's ability to carry out everyday tasks, such as going to work, maintaining relationships and caring for themselves or others." I read everyday some of the hard times others with schizophrenia struggle with everyday.  I also always wonder how I received this disease as no others in my family except maybe a cousin on my dads side had a mental illness no one else.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

High Cholesterol May Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "TORONTO — While having high cholesterol may open individuals to cardiovascular risks, there is evidence that elevated lipid levels may actually improve cognition in schizophrenia patients. The finding was based on an assessment of the breakthrough 2005 CATIE study (Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Clinical Effectiveness), according to Henry Nasrallah, MD, chairman of the Department of the Neurology and Psychiatry at St. Louis University School of Medicine, in Missouri. “If [patients] had higher cholesterol, they had higher cognitive scores,” Nasrallah said during a presentation at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting here. He added this also applied to high levels of triglycerides, another type of fat found in the blood. Better cognition was also associated with high HDL cholesterol levels." What does cholesterol have to do with cognition?  I do know a lot of people with schizophrenia would love to have better cognition in exchange for high cholesterol.  Although they would have to risk cardiovascular risks.
The article goes on to say: "The CATIE study also found that patients who gained weight while on antipsychotics also tended to do have better scores on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), a common measure used to measure schizophrenia severity.  'No matter which antipsychotic [a patient took], if they gained even a little bit of weight, they did better,' he said. Those 'that kept their weight or lost weight didn't do as well.' However, he added that weight gain itself was not associated with improved cognition. Nasrallah noted that there are currently no treatments available shown to improve cognition in schizophrenia, an unmet medical need. However, the prospect of having psychiatrists suggest that schizophrenia patients maintain high cholesterol levels puts them in a bind as such levels increase cardiovascular risks." I sure wouldn't  want to gain weight to do better. I am trying to lose what I have gained over the years.  I am finally doing good I walk at least three miles a day. It sure would put psychiatrists in a bind.  Now that they are mixing health in with your treatment of mental illness.
The article ends with: "As to why high lipid levels may benefit cognition in schizophrenia patients, Nasrallah suggested that lipids play an important role in cell wall structure, and may also be good for brain circuitry. In response to a question from an audience member, Nasrallah said that omega-3 fatty acids may also serve as a protective factor for the brain, though he suggested that they are more beneficial in stemming brain inflammation rather than improving cognition."Well we know why now.  Although I would rather have normal cholesterol.  I took  a cholesterol drug once and it was bad that I have never taken them again.  Now instead of lard I use olive oil and that has helped my cholesterol numbers greatly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Scientists Unravel The Causes Of Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health problem with a complex of symptoms ranging from unorganized thinking or speech to hallucinations. The causes—it seems—are equally complex, with a combination of physical, psychological, environmental and genetic factors implicated. A group of researchers from Duke University decided to focus on just one of these genetic factors, and found that it was linked to three crucial changes in the brain. The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, linked together three possible ideas for the cause of schizophrenia that were previously thought to be unrelated. This new insight into the molecular basis of schizophrenia offers hope for new treatments that are more targeted to the underlying causes of the disorder, rather than just treating the symptoms. The researchers decided to look at how one gene, Arp2/3, contributed to the formation of mental disorders. They chose this particular gene because it is known to be important in governing the formation of the connections between neurons, called synapses, and has also been linked to various mental health conditions. They then genetically modified mice to lack the Arp2/3 gene. Surprisingly, the modified mice displayed schizophrenia-like behaviors. Furthermore, like humans, the animals worsened over time, and when then given antipsychotic medicine, some of the animals’ symptoms were relieved. "That is the cause now can they find an answer to give people relief? Hopefully they can find answers to medication that does not cause so many side effects.
The article goes on to say: "When the team, led by Scott Soderling, investigated whether there were any physical or chemical changes in the brain linked to the behaviors seen in the Arp2/3 gene-deficient mice, they discovered three brain abnormalities—all originally considered to be unlinked—that also appear in humans with schizophrenia. Firstly, they found that cells in the brain's frontal area—the region responsible for planning and decision-making—had fewer than normal "dendritic spines." These are the branches that help connect neurons to each other. As the mice aged, they lost more and more of these spines. This is known as the ‘spine pruning theory.’ Secondly, consistent with people suffering schizophrenia, they discovered that the mice lacking Arp2/3 also had hyperactive neurons in the same frontal region of the brain. It was originally thought that hyperactive neurons were incompatible with the ‘spine pruning theory.’ However, the neurons of the modified mice were found to be able to bypass the spines, which act as a filter to keep hyperactive neurons in check. As a consequence, the cells went into overdrive." They have the reasons why it happens. I know little about the brain but I would think hopefully they can find out before hand who would be susceptible to have mental illness.  That way they can find it before it starts. I hope for any family members I may have given mental illness because I have it.
The article ends with: "A third theory suggested that too much dopamine within the brain played a major role in schizophrenia. This was backed up by the fact that a major drug used to treat mental disorders, haloperidol, works by blocking dopamine transmission. The researchers found that the hyperactive neurons in the front of the mice's brains made them dump large amounts of dopamine.
'The most exciting part was when all the pieces of the puzzle fell together,' explained Soderling. 'When Dr. Kim and I finally realized that these three outwardly unrelated phenotypes—spine pruning, hyperactive neurons and excessive dopamine—were actually functionally interrelated with each other, that was really surprising and also very exciting for us.' With the drug haloperidol acting as one of the main treatments to help tame the symptoms of schizophrenia by reducing the amount of dopamine within the brain, this new research goes to show that rather than being the cause of the problem, the excess dopamine is actually the result of a series of misfirings​. It is hoped that this might lead to new treatments that interrupt this cascade, before it manifests in debilitating psychiatric symptoms." I hope so also. My symptoms are in check for the most part, negative and positive. I always read about people that their symptoms are not in check and I know they would like to feel like me and work and do all the things they would like. My medication I know when I take it I fall asleep after a couple of hours and if I do not take it I am wide awake and I know something is wrong.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Psychosis Seldom Leads to Violence

That is the title of this article I am writing about.  "The hallucinations and delusions associated with psychosis seldom foreshadow acts of violence, according to new research led by the University of California, Berkeley.  The findings, published in the online journal Clinical Psychological Science, challenge the media-fueled stereotype of psychosis-induced aggression.  For the study, researchers conducted a meticulous review of 305 violent incidents by mental health patients in the United States, and discovered that only 12 percent of these were preceded by psychosis.  Numerous studies have shown that violence and murder are more likely to be sparked by anger, access to firearms, and substance abuse. The new study is the first to analyze the regularity of psychosis-induced violence among the mentally ill.  'High-profile mass shootings capture public attention and increase vigilance of people with mental illness. But our findings clearly show that psychosis rarely leads directly to violence,' said study lead author Dr. Jennifer Skeem, a clinical psychologist and associate dean of research at University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. " People with mental illness are usually the subjects of violence happening to them. My mental illness had some violence although I was drunk on tequila or it would have never happen at all.
The article goes on to say: "Skeem and fellow researchers at the University of Virginia and Columbia University focused on the most violent patients tracked in the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment study, a major 1998 analysis of more than 1,100 offenders who had been discharged from psychiatric facilities. Specifically, the researchers focused on 100 high-risk patients, who had been involved in two or more violent incidents in the year after they were discharged from a psychiatric facility. The goal was to establish their mental states at the time they were engaging in acts of violence. 'We wanted to examine the small group of people with repeated violence and see how consistently these violent incidents were caused by hallucinations and delusions,' Skeem said. In addition to reviewing records, they interviewed former patients about what they were thinking and feeling just before they committed acts of violence, and also sought the perspectives of their friends and family members." I have not committed an act of violence in the twenty six years of having a mental illness since that day. There are more regular people who commit violence everyday than people with mental illness.
The article ends: "The findings revealed that psychosis preceded only 12 percent of the violent acts they committed following their release. Furthermore, if psychosis was the basis of one violent incident, it was rarely implicated in subsequent ones. Mental health professionals and advocates assert that high-profile cases perpetuate the stigma of mental illness, and keep people who are suffering from psychiatric disorders from talking about their condition and seeking help. In fact, they say, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrators. 'None of this detracts from the message that people with mental illness need access to psychiatric services,' Skeem said. 'But it’s important to remember that risk factors for violence, such as substance abuse, childhood maltreatment, neighborhood disadvantage, are mostly shared by people with and without mental illness, and that’s what we should be focused on if maximizing public safety is our goal.'" They tell the truth I would never commit a violent act again.  I would not have committed that one if I was not drunk.  I know that is not a good excuse although it happened and I will never let it happen again.
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