Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Hormone Therapy, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 01.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_50518" align="alignleft" width="200"]Mark Weiser, M.D. Associate Director for Treatment Trials The Stanley Medical Research Institute Kensington, MD 20895 Dr. Weiser[/caption] Mark Weiser, M.D. Associate Director for Treatment Trials The Stanley Medical Research Institute Kensington, MD 20895 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Over the years many theories have been proposed explaining schizophrenia, and studies tested compounds based on these theories.  Some showed improvement in symptoms, but these positive findings were often not later replicated, and the theory discarded. Over the past 15 years several studies performed in Australia by Dr. Jayshri Kulkarni (Molecular psychiatry. 2015;20(6):695) showed positive effects of estrogen patches on symptoms in women with schizophrenia.
Author Interviews, Schizophrenia / 25.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_48829" align="alignleft" width="130"]Dolores Malaspina MD, MS, MSPHPROFESSOR | Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Genetics and Genomic SciencesIcahn School of Medicine at Mt SinaiDepartment of PsychiatryNew York, NY 10128, USA Dr. Malaspina[/caption] Dolores Malaspina MD, MS, MSPH Professor or Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Genetics and Genomic Sciences Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai Department of Psychiatry New York, NY 10128, USA  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a severe disorder that presents in late adolescence or early adulthood with declining function, social withdrawal and psychotic symptoms such as auditory hallucinations and fixed false beliefs. It is a common condition, affecting 1% of the population, which can be not yet be prevented or cured. Its causes are still puzzling. Evidence from many different research approaches now suggests that an overactive immune system plays some role in causing schizophrenia, but the origins of the immune dysfunction are not known. We considered that too brief a period of sexual contact between parents could cause immune activation in offspring and thus be a risk factor for schizophrenia. With repeated sexual contact the maternal immune system develops tolerance to genetic material from the father. Otherwise, inflammatory processes may restrict the placental blood supply between the fetus and mother.
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Genetic Research, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia / 03.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_48354" align="alignleft" width="99"]Prof Sabine Bahn MD PhD MRCPsych FRSBCambridge Centre for Neuropsychiatric Research Prof. Bahn[/caption] Prof Sabine Bahn MD PhD MRCPsych FRSB Cambridge Centre for Neuropsychiatric Research [caption id="attachment_48355" align="alignleft" width="99"]Jakub Tomasik, PhDDepartment of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Dr. Tomasik[/caption] Jakub Tomasik, PhD Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology University of Cambridge   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Schizophrenia patients are at increased risk of impaired glucose metabolism, yet the comorbidity between the two conditions cannot be fully explained by known risk factors such as obesity, smoking, stress or antipsychotic medication. Previous family and genome-wide studies have suggested that the co-occurrence between schizophrenia and impaired glucose metabolism might be due to shared genetic factors, as exemplified by increased risk of diabetes in first-degree relatives of schizophrenia patients, but the biological mechanisms underlying this association remain unknown. We examined the association between insulin resistance, schizophrenia polygenic risk and response to treatment in 58 drug-naive schizophrenia patients and 58 matched healthy individuals while controlling for a range of demographic (age, gender, body mass index), lifestyle (smoking, alcohol and cannabis use) and clinical (psychopathology scores, treatment drug) factors. We found that insulin resistance, a key feature contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes, significantly correlated with schizophrenia polygenic risk score in patients, with higher genetic risk of schizophrenia associated with increased insulin resistance. Furthermore, we found that patients with higher insulin resistance were more likely to switch medication during the first year of treatment, which implies lower clinical response. 
Author Interviews, Infections, Schizophrenia / 21.03.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_48055" align="alignleft" width="200"]Bartonella - Wikipedia image Bartonella - Wikipedia image[/caption] Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, DVM, DACVIM Melanie S. Steele Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine NC State MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this case report?  Can you briefly explain the signs/symptoms of a Bartonella infection? Response: Bartonella henselae is a bacteria most commonly associated with cat scratch disease, which until recently was thought to be a short-lived (or self-limiting) infection. There are now at least 40 different known species of Bartonella, 13 of which have been found to infect human beings. The ability to find and diagnose Bartonella infection in animals and humans – it is notorious for “hiding” in the linings of blood vessels – has led to its identification in patients with a host of chronic illnesses ranging from migraines to seizures to rheumatoid illnesses, some of which the medical community previously hadn’t been able to attribute to a specific cause. Evolving data suggests a role for these bacteria in a spectrum of cardiovascular, neurological and rheumatological diseases. Specific symptoms or diseases that have been reported with neurobartonellosis previously include encephalitis, headaches, migraines, demyelinating polyneuropathy, neuroretinitis and transverse myelitis. Documentation of Bartonella henselae blood stream infection in a boy diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) extends the spectrum of symptomatology associated with neurobartonellosis.
Author Interviews, JAMA, Karolinski Institute, Pharmacology, Schizophrenia / 24.02.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_47554" align="alignleft" width="200"]Jari Tiihonen, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden Dr. Tiihonen[/caption] Jari Tiihonen, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The effectiveness of antipsychotic combination therapy in schizophrenia relapse prevention is controversial, and use of multiple agents is generally believed to impair physical well-being. But the evidence for this are weak and antipsychotic polypharmacy is widely used.
ADHD, Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Schizophrenia / 31.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_47246" align="alignleft" width="225"]Silvia Alemany ,PhD first author Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by "la Caixa". In collaboration with co-authors: Dr. Alemany[/caption] Silvia Alemany, PhD first author Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by "la Caixa". In collaboration with co-authors: Philip Jansen,MD, MSc and Tonya White, MD, PhD Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Individuals affected by psychiatric disorders can demonstrate morphological brain abnormalities when compared to healthy controls. Although both genetic and environmental factors can account for these brain abnormalities, we expect that genetic susceptibility for psychiatric disorders has the greatest influence on the development of the brain. Genetic susceptibility for psychiatric disorders can be estimated at the individual level by generating polygenic risk scores. Using this methodology, genetic susceptibility to psychiatric disorders and cognition has been associated with behavior problems in childhood. These findings suggest that heritable neurobiological mechanisms are at play in very early in the course of the illnesses.
Author Interviews / 10.12.2018

Prof. John McGrath
Prof. McGrath

MedicalResearch.comInterview with:
Professor John McGrath
Niels Bohr Professor
National Centre for Register-based Research
Aarhus University
Queensland Brain Institute
University of Queensland
Brisbane AustraliaQueensland Centre for Mental Health Research
The Park Centre for Mental Health Australia

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study? 
What are the main findings?

Response: We know that people born in winter and spring have an increased risk of later developing schizophrenia. But, we were not sure why. We know that vitaminD, the sunshine hormone, is more likely to be low in winter and spring, so wedeveloped a way to test for vitamin D in stored neonatal blood sample.

Author Interviews, Pharmacology, Schizophrenia / 31.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_45531" align="alignleft" width="200"]Jelena Kunovac, M.D., M.S. Founder and Chief Executive Chief Medical Officer Altea Research Las Vegas, Nevada Dr. Kunovac[/caption] Jelena Kunovac, M.D., M.S. Founder and Chief Executive Chief Medical Officer Altea Research Las Vegas, Nevada MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We conducted the study to confirm that the addition of samidorphan to olanzapine does not have an effect on the antipsychotic efficacy of olanzapine in subjects with an acute exacerbation of schizophrenia.
Author Interviews, Bipolar Disorder, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 11.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_45151" align="alignleft" width="150"]Thomas Wolfers PhD Donders Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging Kapittelweg 29 6525EN Nijmegen  The Netherlands Dr. Wolfers[/caption] Thomas Wolfers PhD Donders Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging Kapittelweg 29 6525EN Nijmegen The Netherlands MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are severe and complex mental disorders. Currently, the most common approach in characterizing disorders biologically is by comparing patient groups with groups of healthy individuals. We employed a fundamentally different approach and investigated how much the brains of individual patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder differ from one another. For this purpose, we selected brain scans from healthy individuals to model a norm reflecting the healthy range, subsequently we compared the brain scans of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to this norm on the level of the individual. The main outcome was that individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder differ substantially from one another, thus, considering only the ‘average patient’ has little to say about what might be occurring in the brain of an individual patient.
Aging, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia / 22.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_44041" align="alignleft" width="194"]Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder Costa Mesa, CA Dr. Daniel Amen[/caption] Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder Costa Mesa, CA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain aging. SPECT was used to determine aging trajectories in the brain and which common brain disorders predict abnormally accelerated aging. It examined these functional neuroimaging scans from a large multi-site psychiatric clinic from patients who had many different psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Researchers studied 128 brain regions to predict the chronological age of the patient. Older age predicted from the scan compared to the actual chronological age was interpreted as accelerated aging.  The study found that a number of brain disorders and behaviors predicted accelerated aging, especially schizophrenia, which showed an average of 4 years of premature aging, cannabis abuse (2.8 years of accelerated aging), bipolar disorder (1.6 years accelerated aging), ADHD (1.4 years accelerated aging) and alcohol abuse (0.6 years accelerated aging).  Interestingly, the researchers did not observe accelerated aging in depression and aging, which they hypothesize may be due to different types of brain patterns for these disorders.
Author Interviews, Duke, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 26.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43484" align="alignleft" width="199"]Richard Keefe PhD Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Duke Institute for Brains Sciences Dr. Keefe[/caption] Richard Keefe PhD Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Duke Institute for Brains Sciences MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A lot of studies have shown that cognitive deficits are present in young people at risk for psychosis. There have been calls for investigations of the idea that cognition declines over time in the young people who are at highest risk, but longitudinal studies are hard to conduct so not much work has been done to address this question. The main finding from our study is that the cognitive architecture – the way the various aspects of cognitive functioning appear to be organized in each individual’s brain based upon their pattern of performance – changes over time in those young people who are in the midst of developing psychosis. Interestingly, cognitive architecture also becomes more disorganized in those whose high-risk symptoms do not remit over a two year period, and is related to the functional difficulties they may be having. The young people whose high risk symptoms were present at the beginning of the study but remitted later actually improved cognitively over the two year period of the study.
Author Interviews, Schizophrenia, Technology / 13.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43153" align="alignleft" width="125"]Bo Cao, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry University of Alberta Edmonton Dr. Bo Cao[/caption] Bo Cao, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry University of Alberta Edmonton MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder that comes with delusions, hallucinations, poor motivation, cognitive impairments. The economic burden of schizophrenia was estimated at $155.7 billion in 2013 alone in the United States. Schizophrenia usually emerges early in life and can potentially become a lifetime burden for some patients. Repeated untreated psychotic episodes may be associated with irreversible alterations of the brain. Thus, it is crucial to identify schizophrenia early and provide effective treatment. However, identifying biomarkers in schizophrenia during the first episode without the confounding effects of treatment has been challenging. Limited progress has been made in leveraging these biomarkers to establish diagnosis and make individualized predictions of future treatment responses to antipsychotics. In a recent study by Dr. Cao and his colleagues, they successfully identified the first-episode drug-naïve schizophrenia patients (accuracy 78.6%) and predict their responses to antipsychotic treatment (accuracy 82.5%) at an individual level by using a machine learning algorithm and the functional connections of a brain region called the superior temporal cortex. 
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Schizophrenia, UCSD / 12.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Marcelo Pablo Coba PhD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute Keck School of Medicine of USC MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia (SCZ) are complex brain disorders where a multitude or risk factors have been implicated in contributing to the disease, with a low number of genes that have been strongly implicated in a very low number of cases. One of these genes is Disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), which was first described in 2000 as a balanced translocation that segregates with schizophrenia and related psychiatric disorders in a large Scottish family. Because DISC1 does not have an identified protein function such as enzymatic, channel, transporter, etc… the field moved to try to understand what proteins are associated (physically connected) to DISC1 and to try to explain DISC1 function through the function of its protein interactors. This means that if DISC1 binds proteins X, Y and Z, then mutations in the DISC1 gene should affect the functions of   these proteins. Therefore, there has been much effort in trying to identify DISC1 protein interactors. However this task has not been straightforward.
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 17.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_41730" align="alignleft" width="162"]Tobias Kaufmann UiO Institute of Clinical Medicine Dr. Kaufmann[/caption] Tobias Kaufmann PhD Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over the past years, a lot of work has pointed toward impaired brain networks in schizophrenia. With this work we assessed brain network stability across different loads of a cognitive task using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Based on our earlier work on adolescents with pre-clinical signs of mental illness who showed decreased stability of networks across different tasks and conditions, we hypothesized that brain networks in adults with schizophrenia show similar properties of decreased stability. Our results confirmed this hypothesis. Stability was reduced in several large-scale brain networks across the sampled age range from early adulthood to the sixties. Further, network stability was associated with polygenic risk for schizophrenia as well as cognitive task performance.
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 08.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_41566" align="alignleft" width="186"]Christoph U. Correll, MD Professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Medicine The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Hempstead, NY Investigator, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Medical Director, Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Department of Psychiatry Dr. Correll[/caption] Christoph U. Correll, MD Professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Medicine The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Hempstead, NY Investigator, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Medical Director, Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Department of Psychiatry   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are still all to often chronic and recurring mental health conditions that not uncommonly take a course during which individuals have varying degrees of significantly impaired personal, social and educational/vocational functioning. Prior individual studies examining early specialty intervention services, which integrate multiple different and complementary treatment components, had shown that this treatment approach can yield superior outcomes for people with early-phase schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders compared to usual care given to all people with psychotic disorders. However, we were lacking a broad overview of the type and results of treatment programs that had been conducted across different countries, continents and mental health service delivery systems. Moreover, we did not yet have a synthesis across all important outcomes that had been examined across these individual studies. This first comprehensive meta-analysis on this topic provides previously missing information on the different early intervention programs and their components as well as on all relevant outcomes for people who did or did not receiving early integrated care, also recently called ‘coordinated specialty care.’
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 29.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_40862" align="alignleft" width="178"]Silvana Galderisi MD President of the European Psychiatric Association Professor of Psychiatry University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" Italy Dr. Galderisi[/caption] Silvana Galderisi MD President of the European Psychiatric Association Professor of Psychiatry University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" Italy MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The goal of schizophrenia treatment has gradually shifted from reduction of symptoms and prevention of relapse to improvement of real-life functioning. In fact, these outcomes not always coincide and, in spite of progress in treatments reducing symptoms and preventing relapses, people with schizophrenia live 15-20 years less than the general population, are often unemployed, and show severe disabilities. Enhanced understanding of factors associated with real-life functioning is instrumental to design effective integrated and personalized treatment plans for persons with schizophrenia. To this aim, the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses, including 26 twenty-six Italian university psychiatric clinics and/or mental health departments, has focused on the identification of variables influencing real-life functioning, in particular on the interrelationships among illness-related variables, personal resources, context-related variables and real-life functioning. The number of variables and subjects included in the study was larger than in any other study on this topic, and for the first time the network analysis was used to model the interplay among cognitive, psychopathological and psychosocial variables in a large sample of community dwelling subjects with schizophrenia. The network analysis is a data-driven approach; it does not rely on an a priori model of relationships among variables, provides quantitative measures of variable centrality within the network, thus indicating which variables play a key role in the network, and which ones are instead more peripheral. In addition, by inspecting the network, it is possible to understand the extent to which variables belonging to the same construct are connected, and how different constructs are mutually interacting and reinforcing each other. 
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 13.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chuanjun Zhuo, MD, PhD Department of Psychiatric Laboratory Department of Psychiatric Neuroimaging Faculty Tianjin Mental Health Center Tianjin, China  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: According to previous epidemiological studies, women with schizophrenia may be associated with significantly increased risk of breast cancer. However, the results of these studies were not always consistent. In view of the fact that medical care for patients with schizophrenia is becoming multidisciplinary, we aimed to evaluate the risk of breast cancer in women with schizophrenia via a meta-analysis of relevant cohort studies. We included twelve cohorts and adopted the recently proposed prediction interval to evaluate the heterogeneity among the included studies. We found that schizophrenia was associated with about 30% increased risk of breast cancer incidence in women. However, significant heterogeneity existed of the included studies, which indicates that more extensive researches into the potential mechanisms underlying the associations between schizophrenia and breast cancer risk are needed.
Author Interviews, Pharmacology, Schizophrenia / 04.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_39820" align="alignleft" width="174"]Hsien-Yuan Lane Dr. Hsien-Yuan Lane[/caption] Hsien-Yuan Lane, MD,PhD Distinguished Professor, Director, Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan Director, Brain Diseases Research Center (BDRC), Addiction Research Center, and Department of Psychiatry, China Medical University and Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan PI, Taiwan Clinical Trial Consortium for Mental Disorders  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental illness affecting more than 21 million people worldwide. Clozapine has been regarded as the last-line antipsychotic agent for patients with refractory schizophrenia. However, an estimated 40–70% of patients with refractory schizophrenia fail to improve even with clozapine , referred to as “clozapine-resistant”. To date, there is no convincing evidence for augmentation on clozapine. Activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, including inhibition of D-amino acid oxidase (DAAO) that may metabolize D-amino acids, has been reported to be beneficial for patients receiving antipsychotics other than clozapine. Sodium benzoate is a DAAO inhibitor. A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that add-on sodium benzoate improved the clinical symptoms in patients with clozapine-resistant schizophrenia, possibly through DAAO inhibition and antioxidation as well.
Author Interviews, MRI, Schizophrenia / 31.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_36710" align="alignleft" width="179"]Irina Rish PhD IBM T.J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 Dr. Rish[/caption] Irina Rish PhD IBM T.J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, NY 10598  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe psychiatric disorder that affects roughly about 1% of population. Although it is not as common as other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder (ADD), and so on, schizophrenia  is perhaps one of  the most debilitating psychiatric disorders,  preventing people from normal  functioning in daily life. It is characterized primarily by a range of psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations (false auditory, visual or tactile perceptions detached from reality), as well as delusions, disorganized thoughts, speech and behavior, and multiple other symptoms including difficulty showing (and recognizing) emotions, poor executive functioning, inattentiveness, problems with working memory,  and so one. Overall, schizophrenia has a devastating impact not only on patients and their families, but on the economy, as it was estimated to cost the US about 2% off  gross national product in treatment costs, missed work, etc. Thus, taking steps towards better understanding of the disease can potentially lead to more accurate early diagnosis and better treatments. In this work, the objective was to identify "statistical biomarkers' of schizophrenia from brain imaging data (specifically, functional MRI), i.e. brain activity patterns that would be capable of accurately discriminating between schizophrenic patients and controls, and reproducible (stable) across multiple datasets. The focus on both predictive accuracy (generalization to previously unseen subjects) as well as on stability (reproducibility) across multiple datsets differentiates our work from majority of similar studies in neuroimaging field that tend to focus only on statistically significant differences between such patterns on a fixed dataset, and may not reliably generalize to new data. Our prior work on neuroimaging-based analysis of schizoprenia http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/related?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0050625, as well as other research in the field, suggest that disrupted functional connectivity can be a much more informative source of discriminative patterns than local changes in brain activations, since schizophrenia is well known to be a "network disease", rather than a localized one.
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 02.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_36260" align="alignleft" width="140"]Peter Kochunov PhD Professor Maryland Psychiatric Research Center Dr. Kochunov[/caption] Peter Kochunov PhD Professor Maryland Psychiatric Research Center  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a debilitating disorder that strikes young people at the point of entering adulthood. In the past, we and others demonstrated that patients with schizophrenia are characterized by deficits in the white matter of the brain. White matter is the part of the brain that serves the backbone of cerebral networks transmitting information and interconnecting brain regions. In this report, we link the impaired white matter of the brain in schizophrenia patients with the disorder-related deficits in the processing speed. We also showed that mental processing speed is a fundamental cognitive construct that partially supports other functions like working memory in patients, where processing speed acting as the intermediate between white matter deficits and reduced working memory. This interesting relationship between processing speed, working memory, and white matter is most obvious in white matter regions most vulnerable to schizophrenia. That was the main finding of the study.
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_36131" align="alignleft" width="180"]Olav B. Smeland MD PhD Postdoctoral researcher SFF NORMENT, KG Jepsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental  Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine University of Oslo Oslo, Norway Dr. Smeland[/caption] Olav B. Smeland MD PhD Postdoctoral researcher SFF NORMENT, KG Jepsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine University of Oslo Oslo, Norway MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder associated with widespread cognitive impairments. The cognitive deficits are associated with disabilities in social, economic and occupational functioning and lower quality of life among individuals with schizophrenia. Despite this, current treatment strategies largely fail to ameliorate these cognitive impairments. To develop more efficient treatment strategies in schizophrenia, a better understanding of the disease mechanisms underlying cognitive deficits is needed. For a long time we have known that schizophrenia is heritable, and in recent years many schizophrenia risk genes have been identified. Moreover, several studies have indicated that genetic risk of schizophrenia may contribute to cognitive dysfunction. In this study, we aimed to identify schizophrenia risk genes that also influence cognitive function. In a large international collaboration of researchers, we combined genome-wide association studies on schizophrenia and the cognitive traits of verbal-numerical reasoning, reaction time and general cognitive function. In total, we analyzed genetic data from more than 250.000 participants. We were able to identify 21 genetic variants shared between schizophrenia and cognitive traits. For 18 of these genetic variants, schizophrenia risk was associated with poorer cognitive performance.
Author Interviews, JAMA, Karolinski Institute, Pharmacology, Schizophrenia / 09.06.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_35117" align="alignleft" width="200"]Jari Tiihonen, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden Prof. Tiihonen[/caption] Jari Tiihonen, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden  MedicalResearch.com: What are the limitations of existing analyses of the comparative effectiveness of antipsychotics? Response: It has remained unclear if there are clinically meaningful differences between antipsychotic treatments in relapse prevention of schizophrenia, due to the impossibility of including large unselected patient populations in randomized controlled trials, and due to residual confounding from selection biases in observational studies.
Author Interviews, Autism, Genetic Research, Schizophrenia, UCLA / 26.05.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_34886" align="alignleft" width="120"]Carrie Bearden, Ph.D. Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Bearden[/caption] Carrie Bearden, Ph.D. Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior University of California, Los Angeles MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A 22q11.2 deletion confers the highest known genetic risk for schizophrenia, but a duplication in the same region is strongly associated with autism and is less common in schizophrenia cases than in the general population. Thus, we became interested in trying to understand whether there were differences in brain development that might predispose to one condition vs. the other.
Author Interviews, Johns Hopkins, Microbiome, Probiotics, Schizophrenia / 10.04.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Emily G. Severance PhD Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology Department of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previously, we found that people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had an increased susceptibility to Candida albicans yeast infections, which was sex specific and associated with memory deficits. Also in an earlier placebo-controlled probiotic study, we found that although probiotics improved the overall bowel function of people with schizophrenia, there was no effect by this treatment on psychiatric symptoms.  Given that C. albicans infections can upset the dynamics of the human microbiome, we decided to re-evaluate the potential benefit of probiotics in the context of a patient’s C. albicans yeast status.  Not only was bowel function again enhanced following intake of probiotics, but yeast antibody levels were decreased by this treatment. Furthermore, psychiatric symptoms were actually improved over time for men receiving probiotics who did not have elevated C. albicans antibodies. Men who were positive for C. albicans exposure, however, consistently presented with worse psychiatric symptoms irrespective of probiotic or placebo treatment.
Author Interviews, Columbia, Global Health, Schizophrenia / 16.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_32996" align="alignleft" width="165"]L. H. Lumey, MD, PhD Professor of Epidemiology Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University Dr. Lumey[/caption] L. H. Lumey, MD, PhD Professor of Epidemiology Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Chinese Great Leap Forward Famine in 1959-1961 is the largest famine in human history. Earlier studies have reported that overweight, type 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia, the metabolic syndrome and schizophrenia were more common among adults who were exposed to the famine. Our re-analysis of all previous studies shows no increases in diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions among famine births except for schizophrenia.
Author Interviews, Nature, Schizophrenia / 06.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_31745" align="alignleft" width="150"]Dr. Piotr Słowiński</strong> Department of Mathematics College of Engineering Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Research Fellow University of Exeter Dr. Piotr Słowiński[/caption] Dr. Piotr Słowiński Department of Mathematics College of Engineering Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Research Fellow University of Exeter MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Response: In an earlier study, we have found that every person has an individual style of moving (its own individual motor signature) and that people who have similar motor signatures are better in coordinating with each other (http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/13/116/20151093). In the current study, we show that both these characteristics, own motor signature, and quality of interaction with others, have potential to give and insight into person's mental health condition. Assessment of motor symptoms is already a part of a clinical interview during a neurological evaluation by an expert psychiatrist. Our method, if confirmed in clinical trials, would speed up such examination and would allow for better allocation of the valuable time of medical professionals (for example, for more advanced tests in cases of diagnostic uncertainty). Additionally, it could allow for monitoring and personalization of treatment.
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 13.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_31233" align="alignleft" width="150"]Dr Toby Pillinger MA(Oxon) BM BCh MRCP Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience King's College London Dr. Toby Pillinger[/caption] Dr Toby Pillinger MA(Oxon) BM BCh MRCP Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience King's College London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our meta-analysis has provided strong evidence that compared with healthy controls, individuals with early schizophrenia are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus, even when the effects of antipsychotic drugs, diet and exercise are taken out of the equation. Schizophrenia is associated with a dramatically reduced life expectancy, with individuals dying up to 30 years earlier than the general population. Approximately 60% of this excess mortality is due to physical health disorders such as heart attack or stroke, for which diabetes is a major risk factor. People with long-term schizophrenia are 3 times more likely than the general population to have diabetes, something that has previously been blamed on poor diet and exercise habits, as well as the use of antipsychotic medication. However, the link between schizophrenia and diabetes was first made back in the 19th century, long before the use of antipsychotics, and in an era where diets were less likely to cause diabetes. This could suggest that there is a causative link between schizophrenia and diabetes. Our meta-analysis examined whether diabetes risk is already raised in people at the onset of schizophrenia, before antipsychotics have been prescribed and before a prolonged period of illness that may be associated with poor diet and sedentary behaviour. We pooled data from 16 studies comprising 731 patients and 614 individuals from the general population. We collated blood data examining fasting blood glucose levels, blood glucose levels following the oral glucose tolerance test, fasting insulin levels and degree of insulin resistance. We demonstrated that compared with healthy controls, individuals with early schizophrenia had raised fasting glucose, raised levels of glucose following the oral glucose tolerance test, raised fasting insulin and elevated insulin resistance. Furthermore, these results remained statistically significant even when we restricted our analyses to studies where individuals with schizophrenia were matched to healthy controls with regards their diet, the amount of exercise they engaged in and their ethnic background. This suggests that our results were not wholly driven by differences in lifestyle factors or ethnicity between the two groups, and may therefore point towards a direct role for schizophrenia in increasing risk of diabetes.
Abuse and Neglect, Genetic Research, Schizophrenia, UCSD / 06.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_31016" align="alignleft" width="200"]Brian P. Head, MS, PhD Associate Professor, UCSD Research Scientist, VASDHS Department of Anesthesiology VA San Diego Healthcare System San Diego, CA 92161-9125 Dr. Brian Head[/caption] Brian P. Head, MS, PhD Associate Professor, UCSD Research Scientist, VASDHS Department of Anesthesiology VA San Diego Healthcare System San Diego, CA 92161-9125 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: DISC1 is a schizophrenia associated gene originally identified in a Scottish family. DISC1 protein is highly expressed in the developing brain and in the dentate gyrus of the adult hippocampus, and is involved in neuritogenesis and neuronal signaling. DISC1 is located in multiple intracellular locations including axons and synapses, and loss of DISC1 function causes deficits in neural development, neuronal proliferation, axonal growth, and cytoskeleton modulation, which are consistent with abnormal neural development in schizophrenia. SynCav1 means synapsin-driven caveolin construct. Synapsin promoter is neuronal specific which allows us to increase caveolin expression-specifically in neurons. We have previously shown that SynCav1 increases neuronal signaling and dendritic growth and arborization in vitro (Head BP JBC 2011), and when delivered in vivo augments functional neuroplasticity and improves learning and memory in adult and aged mice (Mandyam CD Biol Psych 2015). Since loss of DISC1 function equates to schizophrenic-like symptoms, then decreased DISC1 expression in Cav-1 KO mice agrees with this premise. Thus, loss of Cav-1 increases their likelihood of developing schizophrenia-like symptoms. Because re-espression of Cav-1 restored DISC1 expression as well as expression of key synaptic proteins, this proof-of-concept findings not only builds upon our previously results demonstrating that Cav-1 is critical for neuronal signaling and functional synaptic plasticity but also strongly links Cav-1 with maintaining normal DISC1 expression levels and potentially attenuating schizophrenia-like symptoms.
Author Interviews, Autism, Genetic Research, Nature, Pediatrics, Schizophrenia / 04.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_30921" align="alignleft" width="150"]Dr. Beate St Pourcain MSc, PhD(Cardiff) Genetic Epidemiology School of Oral and Dental Sciences MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit University of Bristol Dr. Beate St Pourcain[/caption] Dr. Beate St Pourcain MSc, PhD(Cardiff) Genetic Epidemiology School of Oral and Dental Sciences MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit University of Bristol MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: People with autism and with schizophrenia both have problems interacting and communicating with other people, because they cannot easily initiate social interactions or give appropriate responses in return. On the other hand, the disorders of autism and schizophrenia develop in very different ways. The first signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) typically occur during infancy or early childhood, whereas the symptoms of schizophrenia usually do not appear until early adulthood. The researchers asked whether it is possible to disentangle the apparent symptom overlap in ASD and schizophrenia through genetic analyses. As clinical diagnoses relate to the age of onset of a disorder and do not capture multiple developmental stages, the researchers used a trick. They assumed that there is a continuum between normal and abnormal behaviour and captured social communicative competence - the ability to socially engage with other people successfully - in participants of a population-based birth cohort during development. Specifically, the researchers studied the genetic overlap between the risk of having these psychiatric disorders and these measures of social communicative competence. Investigating thousands of genetic variants with small effects across the genome, they showed that genes influencing social communication problems during childhood overlap with genes conferring risk for autism, but that this relationship wanes during adolescence. In contrast, genes influencing risk for schizophrenia were most strongly interrelated with genes affecting social competence during later adolescence, in line with the natural history of the disorder. "The findings suggest that the risk of developing these contrasting psychiatric conditions is strongly related to distinct sets of genes, both of which influence social communication skills, but exert their maximum influence during different periods of development", explained Beate St Pourcain, senior investigator at the Max Planck Institute and lead author of the study. This is consistent with studies showing that genetic factors underlying social communication behaviour also change to some degree during childhood and adolescence.