As we all know, schizophrenia medication can cause a rash of ill effects in it’s users, often times to the point that the disruption from the medication is subjectively worse than the symptoms of the illness they are meant to treat. Finding the right balance of medications to properly treat the problem without creating addition side effects can be a long and drawn out process that is frustrating to the patient and the doctor. However, a breakthrough in this process may have just occurred…
Yesterday, the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia published its findings (read the media release here) in the Nature Chemical Biology Journal concerning it’s findings regarding a possible new type of schizophrenia medication. It is being called a “dimmer switch,” an analogy to the light switches that allow you to control the amount of light a lightbulb emits versus the binary on-off paradigm we’ve lived with for so long.
The problem with the typical medication used now is that they are also existing in the on-off paradigm. They either block the action of a specific neurotransmitter by docking themselves in the synapse receptors, or they don’t. This can often cause what could be termed an “overkill” effect versus no effect at all. Repeated exposure to this overkill can leave individuals with lasting side effects as the brain attempts to cope with these drastic changes and stressors.
This new dimmer switch drug is meant to only partially block the action of dopamine at the D2 receptor and can be engineered to control it within a range of 0-100%, so that it can be dialed in to the percentage from which the individual patient best benefits.
This is a major breakthrough in the research for medications used in treating schizophrenia. The next phase of the research program has begun to begin to refine the drug and understand precisely how to control the mechanism of the dimmer. Hopefully clinical trials can begin very soon and we can all reap the rewards of Dr. Lane and Professor Christopoulos’s collaborative efforts.