Acne Drug May Help Curb Schizophrenia Symptoms

The National Institute for Health Research in the U.K. is seeking 175 schizophrenic patients for a £1.9 million trial of minocycline next month. Based on recent research, the study hopes to show that the drug, popularly prescribed as a cheap, effective acne treatment, can also help mitigate some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

In 2007, a 23-year-old man was admitted to a Japanese hospital for treatment of paranoia and persecutory delusions. Upon developing severe pneumonia after a week in the hospital, the man was prescribed the antibiotic minocycline for the infection. His psychosis resolved itself within two months. This was after he proved completely unresponsive to the powerful anti-psychotic drug, halperidol. Independent trials in Brazil, Israel, and Pakistan have confirmed its effectiveness.

The NIHR study will divide participants into two groups, one of which will receive minocycline and the other of which will get a placebo. At the beginning and end of the trial, expected to last a full year, brain scans will measure the amount of gray matter in the participants' brains. Loss of gray matter is one effect of schizophrenia.

Scientists will also investigate the presence of inflammation in the brain. It is theorized that schizophrenia and other diseases like depression and Alzheimer's result at least partially from brain inflammation. Minocycline is a powerful and proven anti-inflammatory agent, and may also have neuroprotective qualities.

Source: The Independent

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