Trending Clinical Topics for February 2019

Ryan Syrek

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March 01, 2019

Trending Clinical Topic of the Week (February 2-8): Schizophrenia

A mutation associated with increased risk, and new information about possible treatments, resulted in this week's top trending clinical topic. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that a point mutation in the zinc-transporter gene SLC39A8 may increase the risk for schizophrenia. This mutation alters development of putamen volume in the adolescent brain, putting individuals at risk of developing schizophrenia in adulthood. The hope is that future testing for this mutation may allow for early identification and intervention.

In terms of intervention, a large observational study found that patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (BPD), or nonaffective psychosis were less likely to undergo psychiatric hospitalization while taking statins, calcium channel blockers, or metformin. What's more, those with schizophrenia and BPD were less likely to self-harm during periods of exposure to these medicines. New drugs for these conditions have been slow to develop, so the potential of using existing drugs may be a solution. 

A recent study also found certain genetic variations that may affect medication response. Alterations in glutamatergic or N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) neurotransmission may determine the response to antipsychotic medication in patients with schizophrenia. The research found that patients in whom antipsychotic drugs lack efficacy have a greater burden of rare, damaging variants in two synapse-related gene sets. This information could allow for more targeted therapy. From risk factors to treatment, recent news about the full scope of schizophrenia helped make it this week's top trending clinical topic.

Read more information on schizophrenia.

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