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Could hair analysis diagnose schizophrenia?

A novel approach to probing the biological origins of schizophrenia has identified excess production of hydrogen sulfide in the brain as a factor. The recent EMBO Molecular Medicine study also suggests that an enzyme that helps to produce hydrogen sulfide in the brain and leaves a trace in human hair may serve as a presymptomatic biomarker for a subtype of schizophrenia. The researchers propose that the findings could lead to a new class of drugs for schizophrenia. Current treatments, which target the brain's dopamine and serotonin systems, are not always effective and give rise to side effects. "Targeting the metabolic pathway of hydrogen sulfide provides a novel therapeutic approach," concluded the authors, whose investigation involved genetically engineered mice, postmortem human brain tissue, and people with and without schizophrenia. Senior study author Dr. Takeo Yoshikawa, who leads the molecular psychiatry team at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science in Japan, notes that drug companies have stopped developing new treatments for schizophrenia. "A new paradigm is needed for the development of novel drugs," he observes, adding that "Currently, about 30% of patients with schizophrenia are resistant to dopamine D2-receptor antagonist therapy." (Credits: www.medicalnewstoday.com)

Study challenges link between depression and inflammation

In recent years, a growing body of evidence has suggested that inflammation and depression are intimately linked. But new research challenges this notion. The idea that inflammation may be what drives and characterizes depression has been gaining more and more ground in recent years. A study published in 2015, for instance, found that clinical depression is linked with 30% more inflammation in the brain. A couple of years later, another study found markers of brain inflammation in people with suicidal ideation, and other researchers have suggested that low-grade inflammation may reduce motivation to perform daily tasks. But a new study challenges this popular notion. A team led by Eiko Fried, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Universiteit Leiden, in the Netherlands, applied network analysis to study the links between "individual depressive symptoms, inflammatory markers, and covariates." Their findings appear in the journal Psychological Medicine. The researcher hopes that the study will help disentangle the complex relationship between inflammation and depression, as well as lead to more personalized treatment approaches by investigating the effect of depressive symptoms individually. (Credits: www.medicalnewstoday.com)