Immunotherapy Can Boost Cognitive Function in Schizophrenia Patients

Patients with schizophrenia may benefit from immunotherapy in addition to their regular care, reports a new study.

The immune-supressing drug tocilizumab, which is normally prescribed for rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis, was associated with improved cognitive ability in people with schizophrenia during the small study.

"This adds to the growing evidence that inflammation plays a role in patients with schizophrenia and again suggests that targeting inflammation may be a viable therapeutic target, at least for cognitive impairment, which is a huge area of unmet need," said Dr. Brian J. Miller, psychiatrist at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Inflammation in the brain

Tocilizumab helps to reduce inflammation by targeting the IL-6 receptor. In patients with schizophrenia, inflammation in the brain is common - and cognitive problems can quickly become worse if they are not treated early.

While the study was small, Miller is confident that tocilizumab may work better at reducing inflammation than other anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin.

"If we see improvements with this drug, then we know it's not due to other effects," Miller concluded.

The study is published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Source: Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

Image courtesy of nenetus/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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