Breakthrough in schizophrenia treatment by Glasgow researchers

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Brain represented as mechanical cogs

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Tomas Dvorak
Reporter

A research group led by the University of Glasgow has made headlines with their breakthrough discovery of a possible treatment for schizophrenia.

Research currently shows that the majority of people with schizophrenia are deficient in a multifunctional ‘scaffolding’ protein, known as DISC1, which is vital to key brain functions.

For the first time in history, scientists have identified a protein called FBXW7, which marks the DISC1 protein for destruction.

After four years of experimentation, researchers have found that by using an inhibitory peptide they can disrupt interaction between the two proteins, meaning that the DISC1 proteins are not destroyed and levels in the brain can be restored.

The research team was led by Dr George Baillie, Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, who said that they are hopeful that the research is the first step on a journey towards a potential new drug treatment option, not just for schizophrenia but for “a range of psychiatric illnesses.”

The paper has been published in the renowned journal Molecular Psychiatry, and can be read here.

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder that involves the breakdown of the regular social behaviour of the subject and a failure to differentiate between real life and illusion. Symptoms include confused thinking, hearing voices that others do not hear, and reduced social engagement.

Approximately 1% of the global population is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and there is currently no effective primary treatment. Currently, schizophrenia is treated with a combination of medication and therapy tailored to each individual. In most cases, this will be antipsychotic medicines and cognitive behavioral therapy.