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Protein researches closing in on the mystery of schizophrenia
Date:4/11/2014

Schizophrenia is a severe disease for which there is still no effective medical treatment. In an attempt to understand exactly what happens in the brain of a schizophrenic person, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have analyzed proteins in the brains of rats that have been given hallucinogenic drugs. This may pave the way for new and better medicines.

Seven per cent of the adult population suffers from schizophrenia, and although scientists have tried for centuries to understand the disease, they still do not know what causes the disease or which physiological changes it causes in the body. Doctors cannot make the diagnosis by looking for specific physiological changes in the patient's blood or tissue, but have to diagnose from behavioral symptoms.

In an attempt to find the physiological signature of schizophrenia, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark conducted tests on rats, and they now believe that the signature lies in some specific, measurable proteins. Knowing these proteins and comparing their behaviour to proteins in the brains of not schizophrenic people may make it possible to develop more effective drugs.

It is extremely difficult to study brain activity in schizophrenic people, which is why researchers often use animal models in their strive to understand the mysteries of the schizophrenic brain. Rat brains resemble human brains in so many ways that it makes sense to study them if one wants to learn more about the human brain.

The strong hallucinogenic drug phenocyclidine (PCP), also known as angel's dust, provides a range of symptoms in people which are very similar to schizophrenia.

"When we give PCP to rats, the rats become valuable study objects for schizophrenia researchers", explains Ole Nrregaard Jensen, professor and head of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Together with Pawel Palmowski, Adelina Rogowska-Wrzesinska and others from a.o. D
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Contact: Birgitte Svennevig
birs@sdu.dk
University of Southern Denmark
Source:Eurekalert

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