9 mars 2012 5 09 /03 /mars /2012 07:09
A cheap antibiotic that has previously been given to those suffering from acne could also help to treat schizophrenia, according to new research. The discovery is to be investigated further in a £1.9 million UK trial of minocycline, which is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research. The antibiotic has already been prescribed to schizophrenic patients in Japan to treat unrelated infections. But as well as helping to clear up these infections, it was also found that there were improvements in the patients' psychotic symptoms. This has prompted researchers to test the drug in patients around the world and trials in Israel, Pakistan and Brazil have shown significant improvement in those taking the drug. The UK trial is due to start recruiting patients next month and will involve half of the 175 patients being given minocycline with their usual anti-psychotic treatment and the other half taking a placebo. Brain scans will be carried out at the beginning and end of the 12-month trial on the patients to compare the loss of grey matter which is an effect of schizophrenia. Scientists believe that schizophrenia and other mental illnesses such as depression and Alzheimer's disease could be caused by inflammatory processes in the brain. These could be reduced by the anti-inflammatory effects of minocycline. "Infection or inflammation might be involved in a minority of people with acute psychosis and minocycline might counter this," says Professor Sir Robin Murray, chair of the Schizophrenia Commission. "In depression inflammatory markers go up and in Alzheimer's too."