Trials Launched to Test Treatment of Cognitive Dysfunction in Schizophrenia
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), of the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a four-year, $9 million
contract to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and
five other academic medical centers to create a network of Treatment
Units for Research on Neurocognition and Schizophrenia (TURNS).
The research will test the effectiveness of new drug treatments
for the cognitive deficits of schizophrenia. The project will be
directed by Stephen R. Marder, M.D., at UCLA with investigators
at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, the University
of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the University of Maryland, Baltimore,
Duke University, Durham, Washington University, St. Louis, and Nathan
Klein Institute, New York.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disease.
Approximately 1 percent of the population develops schizophrenia
during their lifetime more than 2 million Americans suffer from
the illness in a given year. Although available medications are
reasonably effective in treating the positive symptoms of the illness
such as hallucinations and delusions, recent research indicates
that cognitive impairments in areas such as attention, memory and
problem solving are responsible for much of the disability associated
with the disease.
"Unfortunately, the medications currently available do little
to remedy this aspect of the illness. Consequently, many patients
have serious residual symptoms and only one in five are able to
recover sufficiently to work," said Thomas R. Insel, M.D.,
director of NIMH.
The NIMH approach is built on the assumption that progress in developing
new treatments will require collaboration between the best academic,
government and industry scientists. The TURNS is one component of
a multipronged NIMH effort to stimulate academic and industry sponsored
research focused on cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. It follows
completion of the Measurement and Treatment Research for Cognition
in Schizophrenia (MATRICS). The goals of MATRICS are to identify
the most promising science-based ideas regarding the neurochemical
basis of these deficits, and to achieve a broad academic, industry
and regulatory agreement on the best way to measure cognition in
NIMH is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the
Federal Government's primary agency for biomedical and behavioral
research. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and