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Study: This acne medicine can protect against schizophrenia

Study: This acne medicine can protect against schizophrenia


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New treatment approach against schizophrenia discovered

American researchers recently found evidence that certain brain development processes, primarily during puberty, have occurred excessively in people with schizophrenia. This leads to structural abnormalities in the brain that are suspected of triggering schizophrenia. The research team also discovered that the antibiotic minocycline, which is often used to treat acne, can protect against structural brain changes.

Researchers at the “Center for Genomic Medicine” at the Massachusetts General Hospital recently found new clues to the causes of schizophrenia, which had not yet been sufficiently understood. According to the study, the brain is restructured in the phase of growing up (adolescence). In so-called synaptic pruning, depending on experience, certain nerve connections are strengthened and others cut. According to the research team, this process took place in patients with schizophrenia in excess. The study results were recently published in the renowned journal "Nature Neuroscience".

What happens in the brain during adolescence

Massive remodeling processes take place in the brain during puberty. While all possible nerve connections are established in the childhood phase, during adolescence it is sorted out according to the “use it or lose it” principle. Little used brain connections are cut off and frequently used connections are strengthened instead. In this way, the brain can work more efficiently depending on the stress. This process is known as synaptic pruning. Innate immune cells, the so-called microglia, play a central role in this, and they control the process of restructuring.

What happens in the brains of schizophrenics

The researchers led by study leader Roy Perlis found that these circumcisions of the synapses take place faster and more extensively in the brains of patients with schizophrenia. This suggests that this is the cause or at least part of the cause of the development of the disease. Since preclinical research has already shown that the antibiotic minocycline is effective in neurodegenerative diseases, the researchers used model experiments to investigate how minocycline affects nerve cells in the brains of schizophrenia patients. Excessive synaptic circumcision was almost completely normalized by higher doses.

Mode of action so far unknown

Minocycline is a broad spectrum antibiotic from the group of tetracyclines and is used to inhibit the multiplication of various bacteria. In particular, it has a good effect on inflammatory acne. Why this antibiotic also helps with certain neurodegenerative diseases and why it affects synaptic circumcision is still unclear.

Clinical trial is pending

"As encouraging as these first results are, they are only the first step," says study leader Perlis, who is also a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in a press release on the study results. However, there is reason to hope that this approach will develop the first therapy to prevent schizophrenia. (vb)

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