NARSAD Grantees Discover Potential for Treatment to Reverse Schizophrenia Symptoms

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Joseph T. Coyle, M.D., of Harvard-affiliated McClean Hospital, a schizophrenia expert
Joseph T. Coyle, M.D.,
Some scientists suspect that the debilitating symptoms of schizophrenia  emerge from problems with a brain chemical called glutamate. Although glutamate drives much of the electrical signaling between neurons, evidence suggests that in schizophrenia the proteins receiving the glutamate message do not fully absorb its impact. A new study by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council Member and NARSAD Grantee Joseph T. Coyle, M.D., NARSAD Grantee Vadim Y. Bolshakov, Ph.D., and colleagues at Harvard-affiliated McClean Hospital offers the possibility that D-serine, a simple compound that boosts glutamate signals, can remedy this situation. 
 
The research, published May 31, 2013 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by creating and studying mice models with underactive glutamate signaling. The researchers found brain abnormalities in the adult mice that have been associated with schizophrenia, including signs that neurons were less able to adapt to change. Injecting the mice with D-serine for 20 days restored their glutamate signals to normal levels, and normalized other markers of a neuron’s ability to change and form connections with other neurons. D-serine also corrected a schizophrenia-like memory problem in these mice.
 
The results offer hope of a new treatment target for schizophrenia because they show that a long-standing, genetically-based problem with glutamate may be remedied in adulthood. If the human brain retains a similar response to D-serine in adulthood, this may bode well for clinical trials of compounds that are currently underway. 
 
 
 

Article comments

when will the D-serine be available to test on human subject?

MY NAME IS KENYA AND I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA AND I HAVE PROBLEMS WITH MEMORY. SOME TIMES MY THOUGHTS LIKE FREEZE UP WHERE I PAUSE AND CAN'T THINK. I WOULD LIKE TO FIND A MEDICATION TO HELP TO DEVELOP MY THOUGHY PATTERN. I ALSO WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE DISORDER.

This is the best thing I have heard in almost 6 yrs. My adult son was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in Nov. 2007. Life for him has been such a horrible nightmare ever since. I have felt that his illness is unbalanced chemicals in the brain. After all we are all just "Chemical-Beings". I pray every nite @ 8:00pm; when my alarm goes off on my cell phone, for a miracle for my son to be well again. I hope this is the miracle I have been praying for. Schizophrenia is such a horrible, life altering illness. It effects so many, on too many levels. I am hopeful. Thank you. Respectfully, J.N.D.'S MOM

I've seen similar reports like this one from 2008, 2009 and 2010 along with clinical trials. I wonder what the outcomes of the trials were. The clinical results were not published, from what I've noticed or couldn't find. But/and in fact that they could/can reverse it completely I think they should receive a Nobel Prize for their work to be land marked for history.

Is this applied on humans yet?if not,when it will be?did you find the side effects of this medication,or it needs times.thank you

Hi
When will this be available for human trials. My son has been ill with treatment resistant schizophrenia for 12 years and it is torture to watch him struggle to think and reason. This sounds hopeful.

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Please note that researchers cannot give specific recommendations or advice about treatment; diagnosis and treatment are complex and highly individualized processes that require comprehensive face-to- face assessment. Please visit our "Ask an Expert" section to see a list of Q & A with NARSAD Grantees.
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