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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid