Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Breakthrough That Could Help Silence The 'Voices' Of Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "Researchers from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced yesterday that they have isolated and characterized a small segment of RNA known as “microRNA” that may hold promise in silencing the bothersome voices which haunt schizophrenic patients. By manipulating this small segment of RNA, the researchers hope to restore normal function to the brain circuit associated with the 'voices' and well as other types of hallucinations associated with schizophrenia. Ultimately, this finding is important because it may serve as a target for developing novel antipsychotic drugs, but without the bothersome side effects (sedation, blurred vision, drowsiness, dry mouth, weight gain) that currently reduce compliance and thus limit their effectiveness."It would help a lot if they can find something that reduces voices.  To do without medication would be great it is the medication that stops most people with this illness find work.  It is hard to work when your medication gets in the way.  Like sedation when you have to stay alert to do your job.
The article continues: "The research was published in the journal Nature Medicine. The researchers used mice to build this particular model that isolates the specific area of the genome associated with such auditory hallucinations. In fact, their work is an extension of previous St. Jude research that details the molecular mechanism that inhibits a neural circuit connecting two areas of the brain associated with processing auditory information. More importantly, the research also yields insight into why psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia are typically delayed until late adolescence or early adulthood." Again my did not come into my late twenties.  Although looking back when I was married I feel that some symptoms were showing.
The article ends: "'In 2014, we identified the specific circuit in the brain that is targeted by antipsychotic drugs. However, the existing antipsychotics also cause devastating side effects,' said corresponding author Stanislav Zakharenko, M.D., Ph.D., of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology. 'In this study, we identified the microRNA that is a key player in disruption of that circuit and showed that depletion of the microRNA was necessary and sufficient to inhibit normal functioning of the circuit in the mouse models. We also found evidence suggesting that the microRNA, named miR-338-3p, could be targeted for development of a new class of antipsychotic drugs with fewer side effects,' he added.'" Fewer side effects would be great I battle to keep the weight off.  I walk and eat less then a normal person.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cognitive Dysfunction Often First Sign of Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "'People with schizophrenia  suffer not only from symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions, but neurocognitive deficits as well such as poor memory and attention. Now a new study led by psychologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) found that certain neurocognitive symptoms tend to manifest first and are typically evident in the early, high-risk stage of the disorder called the prodromal phase.
The findings suggest that these deficits may serve as early warning signs of schizophrenia, as well as potential targets for intervention that could help curb the onset of the psychotic disorder and significantly improve cognitive function. 'To our knowledge, this is the largest and most definitive study of cognition in the high-risk period before onset of for psychosis/schizophrenia,' said corresponding author Larry J. Seidman, Ph.D., a psychologist at BIDMC and professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.'" That is the hardest losing attention span and memory.  It makes it hard to hold down a job and make some money.
The article goes on to say: "'This is part of a paradigm shift in the way we are focusing on the earlier, prodromal phase of the disorder in an effort to identify those most likely to develop psychosis.”\'
For the study, the researchers gathered neurocognitive functioning data from participants at eight university-based, outpatient programs in the United States and Canada over the course of four years. They compared 689 males and females deemed at clinical high risk (CHR) of developing psychosis to 264 male and female healthy controls (HC). The findings show that the high-risk group performed significantly worse than the control group on all measures, which involved tests of executive and visuospatial abilities, attention and working memory, verbal abilities, and declarative memory.
Among the high-risk participants only, those who would later go on to develop psychosis performed significantly worse than their high-risk peers who did not develop psychosis during the study.
'Currently, when mental health professionals assess people coming in for evaluation, we don’t know who will eventually develop schizophrenia,' said Seidman. 'Our group’s focus is on identifying early warning signs and then developing interventions to improve a person’s chances for not getting it, making it milder or delaying it.'" Even if they can make it milder that would help.  I remember not understanding what was going on with me when I first had a breakdown.
The article ends: "Impaired working memory (the ability to hold information like a phone number in mind for a short time while it’s in use) and declarative memory (the ability to recall things learned in the last few minutes) turned out to be the key neurocognitive functions that are impaired in the high-risk, prodromal phase prior to the onset of full-blown psychosis. These findings, said Seidman, confirm the experiences of many people with schizophrenia who report sudden difficulties reading, concentrating or remembering things in the earliest days of the disorder. These cognitive deficits are the most difficult symptoms to treat and are responsible for keeping roughly 80 percent of people with schizophrenia out of work or school. New focus on the prodromal period and the growing promise of early intervention is giving patients and their families more realistic hope that better outcomes are possible, added Seidman. 'People can hear voices and still function pretty well, but they basically cannot function at all when their cognition is impaired,' he said. 'We are also testing a number of cognitive remediation and enhancement treatments to determine their role in the evolution of the illness. There’s more evidence suggesting that early intervention reduces the number of people who transition to schizophrenia.' The study is published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.'" See I would like to know how and why my memory works so good.  Although before this illness I never had a phone book I remembered everyone's phone number I still am pretty good with numbers although I do not know about other things if there is something I want to remember I just repeat the phrase or number to myself and that works.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Scientists confirm genetics of schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "Creating an effective treatment for schizophrenia requires a better understanding of its biology, of the genes that cause it. Using technology to illuminate chromosomes, scientists confirmed the underlying genetics of this mental disorder. The identified genetic disruptions occur at a crucial time in brain development. The science team hopes its research, published Wednesday in the Journal Nature, leads to new medications to treat the disorder.More important, using a similar strategy could help researchers identify genes that lead to autism and other brain disorders, said Dr. Daniel Geschwind, principal investigator and a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine.Building on previous research Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling mental disorder. Its symptoms may include delusions, thought disorder and hallucinations. Worldwide, schizophrenia affects 50 million people, many unable to function normally, as they are tormented with delusions and hallucinations. No cure exists, so doctors try to manage the symptoms with medications and therapy.
Even though the 2014 research revealed parts of the genome causing schizophrenia, the results were still puzzling, Won said. These genetic loci (locations) were not in coding regions of the genome, where a genetic message is translated into proteins, which actively perform the work necessary to maintain cellular life -- and our own human lives. Instead, the loci were in regulatory regions, where genes act more or less like managers by increasing or decreasing a target gene's activities. Another problem: No nearby targets could be found. Searching for an explanation, Geschwind and his colleagues theorized that possible target genes may appear only far away. When the ropes of DNA underwent complex twisting and looping in order to fit into a chromosome, the regulatory genes and their as-yet-unknown targets might actually be close together.Genetic connection points
To investigate, Geschwind and his team used a technology called chromosome conformation capture, which chemically marks and then maps the locations where loops of chromosomal DNA come into contact. And because schizophrenia is believed to result from abnormal development of the cerebral cortex, they looked at brain cells from this region. What did Geschwind and his colleagues discover when they created a map of contact points within the chromosome? Most of the schizophrenia-linked DNA, discovered in the 2014 study, came into contact with genes known to be crucial to brain development. This confirmed past studies indicating that genes that increase the risk for schizophrenia are 'most active during early fetal brain development,"'prior to 24 weeks gestation, explained Geschwind. '"So they are saying it happens in the womb.  Hopefully this study can find an answer that I have been looking for how did I get this disease.
The article ends. "'At this crucial moment in brain development, neurons are born and migrate to different areas of the brain. All told, Geschwind and his team found that the schizophrenia-associated loci make up a small proportion -- less than 10% -- of the total genome.
"Each locus actually has very small impact in really causing schizophrenia. So it doesn't really mean if you have one locus associated with schizophrenia, you have schizophrenia," Won said. Rather, each locus increases the possibility of developing the disorder. "We know that it is not caused by one gene. We call it heterogeneity: It is a disorder that can be caused by many regions, not only one region," he said. Join the conversation See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter. The new study results may someday contribute to new treatments.
'Schizophrenia is actually an adult-onset disorder, so people really didn't think that it may have any fetal components,' Won said. 'Maybe fetal brain developmental period is a very critical for the onset of this disorder, even though the onset -- really showing off the symptoms -- comes at a much later time.'" It also come in teenager years or young adult.  Even though I did not get this disease until my late twenties I feel like some symptoms showed in my teenage years.