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Clinical trial suggests new schizophrenia drug could reduce symptoms

Published on 16/04/20 at 12:47pm
Photo by Rkjon

Results from a newly published clinical trial suggest that a new compound could treat a broad range of schizophrenia symptoms.

A 245 person clinical trial involved a compound called SEP-363856 which acts on neural receptors involved in dopamine signaling. To inhibit dopamine signaling, traditional schizophrenia drugs bind to a type of dopamine receptor on neurons called D2. These drugs help control abnormal perceptions but do not do much to address cognitive impairments including lack of motivation, dulled emotion and social withdrawal.

The researchers locked for a compound that could mimic the effects of a D2 targeting drug while at the same time avoid targeting the D2 receptors. The compound SEP-363856 was the best fit, and activated two other types of neural receptors that helped regulate the synthesis of dopamine while not touching D2 receptors.

The trial for the compound itself tested people who had early schizophrenia. During an increase in their symptoms, patients between 18 to 40 years old would spent 4 weeks in hospital taking either the compound or a placebo once a day. The group taking the compound experiences a largest drop in symptoms compared to the placebo group.

Jeffrey Lieberman, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, commented on the study and said: “If these results are confirmed, this will be big, big news. It was a big gamble on their part. This study suggests that it may pay off.”

Conor Kavanagh

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