A new study may help explain why approximately one-third of patients with schizophrenia do not respond to traditional anti-psychotic medication. The study was led by a team that includes Robin M. Murray, M.D., D.Sc. and Philip McGuire, M.D., Ph.D., beneficiaries of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation whose grants HIKE for Mental Health helps to fund. The study was published in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, and the following article was published on the BBRF website.
“Despite considerable scientific and therapeutic progress over the last 50 years, we still do not know why some patients with schizophrenia respond to treatment whilst others do not. Treatment resistance in such a disabling condition is one of the greatest clinical and therapeutic challenges to psychiatry, significantly affecting patients, their families and society in general,” the authors wrote.
Through the use of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, the researchers found that treatment-resistant patients had normal levels ofdopamine synthesis capacity when compared to patients who responded well to antipsychotic medications. Since most antipsychotic medications work by blocking dopamine, they believe that their finding could explain the different responses to medications.
The authors wrote further: “Our findings suggest that there may be a different molecular mechanism leading to schizophrenia in patients who do not respond to antipsychotic medication. Identifying the precise molecular pathway particularly in these patients is of utmost importance and will help inform the development of much-needed novel treatments.”