New Study May Lead to Advances in the Treatment of Schizophrenia

One of the primary methods of treatment for schizophrenia, a psychiatric disorder that afflicts approximately 1% of the adult population in the U.S., is the use of antipsychotic drugs. Although these drugs are effective for some patients, they don’t work for everyone. Also, the side effects can be very challenging.

Antipsychotic medications primarily block dopamine activity in the brain. This neurotransmitter is elevated in individuals with schizophrenia.

Researchers at Imperial College in London have recently discovered that another neurotransmitter – glutamate – plays a significant role in dopamine levels. Based on their discovery, the scientists believe that developing drugs that target glutamate signaling in the brain may lead to more effective treatment of schizophrenia.

The signaling that takes place between glutamate and dopamine takes place between the striatum and the hippocampus, two specific brain regions. This process isn’t working correctly in people with schizophrenia, but this new study suggests that drugs focusing on the glutamate system could help correct this.

While much more research needs to be done, the findings of this study may lead to advances in the treatment of this difficult psychiatric disorder.

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