Dr. Persis Edwin, September 24, 2013

The Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chicago has concentrated for the last decade on exploring options in treating Bipolar Disorder (BD) and Schizophrenia. Their focus has been on resolving residual symptoms when patients fail therapy or partially respond to treatment.  This "failure" is very frustrating for both the patient and the clinician.  In my exposure to psychiatric patient care patients often became non-compliant when they felt their therapy was not working. 

The SMRI has compiled a summary of nine drug and nutraceutical compounds that have been repurposed in treating mental disorders.  The summary details treatment trials in statistical terms and explains the biochemical pathways that influence physiological outcomes.  While these studies have not yet found a significant success in repurposing for these mental health disorders, it is wonderful to be testing for efficacy for these inexpensive medications, such as aspirin, folate, and fish oil.  These types of repurposed compounds would offer a cheaper means of treatment when being added to a treatment regimen.  SMRI has also supported treatment trials using medications/drugs that have been approved for treatments in other medical conditions. 

As patients undergo treatment for BD and Schizophrenia their symptoms can respond differently over time. This can become  frustrating for the patients and their physicians.  The physician often decides to increase the dosage on the medication being utilized, switch  to another medication or add an adjunct drug.  This latter practice has been the focus of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in a paper they published in January 2012, called Clinical Schizophrenia and Related Psychoses.  This article includes examples of repurposing to create adjunct alternatives, using what is available as potential options to treating patients who are not fully responding to traditional treatment.  According to the article, chlorpromazine, used as a sedative in anesthesia, was repurposed to treat Schizophrenia. 

Repurposing drugs and nutraceuticals provides options in treating conditions such as Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia. It is impressive to know that the SMRI and others are exploring such opportunities.

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