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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora