Alessandro Usiello, Ph.D., of Ceinge Biotecnologie Avanzate, will explore the possible role of an amino acid, D-aspartate, in schizophrenia and its potential as a schizophrenia treatment. Amino acids are small compounds that can perform as chemical messengers in the brain. Postmortem brain studies suggest altered metabolism of D-aspartate in schizophrenia and animal research has shown that D-aspartate can induce effects similar to those of the antipsychotic haloperidol.
Xiang Yang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of the Baylor College of Medicine, will conduct a trial to see if the apparent cognitive benefits of smoking for people with schizophrenia can be pharmacologically mimicked. Nicotine appears to improve cognitive function through nicotinic receptors in the brain, but the effect is short-lived and has toxic consequences. The antiemetic drug tropisetron also interacts with a nicotinic receptor and Dr. Zhang's preliminary studies indicate that tropisetron also improves cognitive deficits.
Elizabeth W. Twamley, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, hopes to develop and test a mobile application of a quick, low-tech intervention that improves cognitive impairment, which is a common feature of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. If the method, called Compensatory Cognitive Training, can be adapted for smartphones and tablets, it would greatly increase access to therapy while decreasing cost.
Analia Bortolozzi Ph.D., of the Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pii Sunyer, is seeking new therapeutic targets for mood and cognitive disorders. Potassium channels are structures on cell membranes that regulate the flow of substances in and out of cells. This study will test the hypothesis that selective suppression of the activity of two potassium channels in the brain's hippocampal region induces resilience to stress, evo
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Brain & Behavior Research Foundation