Distinguished Professor Xu-Feng Huang (right)

IHMRI researcher, Distinguished Professor Xu-Feng Huang, has identified a molecule that could hold the key to more effective drug treatments for patients with schizophrenia.

Distinguished Professor Huang and his research team collaborated with counterparts in China to uncover the role of the Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule (NCAM) in connecting cells and brain development.

The discovery was recently published in the journal Schizophrenia ResearchRead the full article.

The study suggests that young patients with first episode schizophrenia had lower rates of the molecule which contributed to lower cognitive function.

Schizophrenia affects memory loss, decision making and attention span, which are symptoms that are not effectively treated by current antipsychotic medications.

Researchers hope the breakthrough will lead to clinical trials to boost levels of NCAM in schizophrenia sufferers to increase brain cognition.

It is hoped the next stage of the research will be developing a therapeutic drug.

Statistics on Schizophrenia

  • In Australia, approximately 1 in 100 people have or will develop schizophrenia during their lifetime and it is usually a life-long illness.
  • 80% of people with schizophrenia experience cognitive deficits including impaired memory, attention and decision making.
  • Schizophrenia ranks among the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries worldwide.

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