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New Study Offers Hope For Schizophrenia Patients

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A team of scientists have detected some signs of self-repair in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, a mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves.

Dr. Lena Palaiyappan of London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) and her colleagues used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to conduct a covariance study that recorded the increase in brain tissue in nearly 100 patients who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia against 83 people who did not have the disorder.

Schizophrenia is characterized by the patient’s inability to determine right from wrong. Treatments for this degenerative illness are focused on managing symptoms instead of fully healing the condition.

Science Daily reports that, “The study followed 98 patients with schizophrenia and compared them to 83 patients without schizophrenia. The team used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and a sophisticated approach called covariance analysis to record the amount of brain tissue increase. Due to the subtlety and the distributed nature of increase, this had not been demonstrated in patients before now.”

Results from this study showed that patients with schizophrenia, which is generally linked to a decrease in brain tissue volume, showed a small increase in brain tissue over time. This suggests that in terms of brain matter, the patients’ brains appear to become more “normal” the longer they remain schizophrenic.

Palaiyappan says that there has been a long-standing mentality that curing metal illnesses such as schizophrenia is impossible. “Even the state-of-art frontline treatments aim merely for a reduction rather than a reversal of the cognitive and functional deficits caused by the illness,” she says. “Our results highlight that despite the severity of tissue damage, the brain of a patient with schizophrenia is constantly attempting to reorganize itself, possibly to rescue itself or limit the damage.”

“These findings are important not only because of their novelty and the rigor of the study, but because they point the way to the development of targeted treatments that potentially could better address some of the core pathology in schizophrenia,” Dr. Jeffrey Reiss, a member of the research team, also from the LHSC says.

The next step for the scientists is to analyse the evolution of this brain tissue by scanning patients with early schizophrenia and studying the effects this brain tissue reorganization has on them.

The study was published in the journal Psychology Medicine.

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