London, Dec 7 (UNI) In a major breakthrough, a target in the brain has been found that will help doctors to develop new drugs to treat schizophrenia.
Prof Laura Dugan, Dr Margarita Behrens and their colleagues of the University of California have determined what may be one of the initial changes in brain chemistry that leads to schizophrenia, showing that it is collateral damage caused by an enzyme.
It was found that the drug ketamine, known for its hallucinatory effects, triggered a rapid increase of a highly reactive and toxic chemical called superoxide, in mice. It caused the loss of a specific subset of cells in a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex.
They found that using a drug to destroy superoxide might provide future treatments for drug-induced psychosis or schizophrenia.
''Our findings suggest that compounds that inhibit superoxide in the brain, without totally blocking its protective function of killing bacteria, could provide future therapies for schizophrenia or other diseases in humans that exhibit similar changes in neural circuitry,'' the Daily Telegraph quoted Dr Behrens as saying.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects around 1 in every 100 people. It affects men and women equally and seems to be more common in city areas and in some minority ethnic groups.