News / Health

    Brain 'Folds' May Predict if Drugs Will Help Psychosis

    Reuters
    The extent of “folds” on the outer layer of the brain could give doctors a clue as to how well people suffering problems such as hallucinations or delusions will respond to antipsychotic drugs.
     
    Researchers using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of people with psychosis identified patterns of folds in the brain that could act as markers of whether a patient's symptoms will be eased by medication.
     
    Since around half of young patients get little or no benefit from the first medicines prescribed after a psychotic episode, the scientists said the finding could help identify those at greatest risk and may also help the search for better drugs.
     
    “There have been few advances in developing novel anti-psychotic drugs over the past 50 years and we still face the same problems with a sub-group of people who do not respond to the drugs we currently use,” said Paola Dazzan from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, who led the research.
     
    “We could envisage using a marker like this one to identify people who are least likely to respond to existing medications and focus our efforts on developing new medication specifically adapted to this group,” she added.
     
    Psychosis describes mental illness symptoms like delusions and hearing voices and can be a feature of schizophrenia, which the World Health Organization says affects about 24 million people globally, and bipolar disorder, which is estimated to affect 4 percent of people.
     
    Current treatment involves a combination of antipsychotic drugs, psychological therapies and social support. But many patients do not respond to the initial medicines prescribed by their doctor, putting them at risk of further psychotic episodes and deteriorating mental health.
     
    Dazzan's team, whose work was published on Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, used MRI to scan the brains of 126 people - 80 who had experienced a first episode of psychosis and 46 healthy controls.
     
    The scans were done shortly after the psychotic episodes, and the participants were assessed again 12 weeks later to see whether symptoms had improved after initial treatment with antipsychotic medications.
     
    The researchers looked at a feature of the brain called “cortical gyrification” - the extent of folding or wrinkling of the cerebral cortex, the outermost sheet of brain tissue that plays a key role in memory, language and consciousness.
     
    They found that people who did not respond to treatment had less gyrification in many brain regions - particularly in areas considered important in psychosis such as the temporal and frontal lobes.
     
    “All of us have complex and varying patterns of folding in our brains. For the first time we are showing that the measurement of these variations could potentially guide us in treating psychosis,” said Lena Palaniyappan of Britain's Nottingham University, who worked with Dazzan.
     
    The researchers said their findings would need to be validated by further studies before routine MRI scanning could be recommended for all psychotic patients.
     
    But Dazzan said that in the longer term, “if we are able to identify poor responders at the outset, we may be able to formulate personalized treatment plans for that individual patient.”

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora