You may have seen that I recently wrote an article about what people wish the world knew about having schizophrenia. While the mental illness affects more than 21 million people worldwide, it’s still very much misunderstood and often misdiagnosed. However, it’s now been found that schizophrenia treatments might be able to be tested through using a patient’s blood sample.
Blood Samples Could Help Test Schizophrenia Treatments
Scientists at the University Of Cambridge have developed a way to screen treatments for schizophrenia on single blood cells. This new method of testing treatments comes as a result of researchers being made aware that pharmaceutical companies have stopped developing new drugs for the condition.
Santiago Lago, a researcher involved in the study, told Labiotech.eu that neuropsychiatric drug discovery programmes have shrunk by a frightening 70% in the last ten years. The reason for the discouragement is down to the fact that it’s not possible to screen potential treatments on brain samples. In turn, because they don’t know if the treatments will be successful or not and they don’t know the effects that the drugs may have.
However, noting that this was becoming a more evident problem throughout the drug industry, a team of researchers have now developed a new way to screen potential treatments for schizophrenia.
How It Works
To screen the treatments on patients with schizophrenia, the researchers focused on taking blood samples rather than samples of brain tissue. This allowed them to understand the effects that the drug would have on the patient’s blood and, in turn, on their internal functions if they were to carry out the treatment.
In the official study, which was published by Science Advances, the scientists took blood cells from patients with schizophrenia and tested each cell with a variety of different drugs. As a result, they found that certain drugs approved for other conditions, such as medication marketed for inflammation, could also work to treat schizophrenia.
Treatments Could Also Become Personalised
Not only does this study give a good indication of how schizophrenia treatments can be screened for patients, it also could help the personalisation of treatment. This is down to the fact that the effects the drugs had on the particular blood cells provide a good indication of how the drugs would then effect the patients themselves.
This means that the treatments for schizophrenia could be personalised to suit the patient themselves. Analysing the results that the drugs have on their blood cells allows the scientists to pinpoint the side-effects that the patient experiences. This, in turn, can help medical professionals decide how a treatment should be carried out to minimise the likelihood of suffering from negative symptoms.
What do you think about this new development of screening schizophrenia treatments? Do you think it should be possible for the treatment of other mental disorders too?