In the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, there is a brief discussion of the role of culture in psychotherapy. There is a report on a double-blind randomised controlled trial (RCT) of 1st and 2nd generation antipsychotics (Molindone, Risperidone, Olanzapine) in children and adolescents with schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia. Efficacy was similar whilst weight gain increased significantly in the Olanzapine group, the Molindone group experienced more akathasia and Prolactin increased in the Risperidone group. There were a number of other findings. In a multicentre 6-week trial of Aripiprazole (10mg and 30mg arms) v placebo in adolescents with schizophrenia. The Aripiprazole groups both improved on the PANSS Total scores as well as negative symptom scores (10mg arm) as compared to placebo. The main side-effects in the Aripiprazole groups were somnolence, extrapyramidal side-effects and tremor and were more common in the 30mg arm. There was a discussion of these two trials with comments on their length which didn’t allow enough time for the full effects to be observed. There is also a report on an RCT of Naltrexone in amphetamine dependence showing longer time to relapse and significantly lower positive testing for amphetamines in the Naltrexone group. There is a discussion of a twin study on the difference between bereavement and other stressful life-events in relation to depression. Finally there is an examination of Apo-E4 levels in older adults in the community and the relation to stress in the Baltimore Memory Study.
in the 7.11.08 edition of the Science Podcast there is a discussion of the interaction between genes and behaviours in flies. Flies and bees apparently diverged 300 million years ago but the researchers have been able to use findings from the flies in terms of foraging and translate the inferences to bees which are regulated by social interactions. When bees are placed in different social environments there are effects on the expression of thousands of genes. If this could be translated to humans then perhaps it means that in different social environments very large numbers of genes are being differentially expressed which have profound implications for the analysis of genes and mental illnesses. The NIH are allocating more research funds to new researchers after it was found that the average age at which researchers gain a grant has been increasing to 42 years of age! There is discussion of a microdeletion on chromosome 17 where an inversion has been traced back 2 million years and occurs in 20% of Europeans. It turns out that the inversion is present in macaques and other primates and therefore the non-inverted form which is pervasive globally has presumably offered a selective advantage (globally). The genes in the segment on chromosome 17 are reversed and are more likely to be omitted during replication. The genes are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease (MAPT association), Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Learning Disabilities. As there is higher prevalence in Europeans there is speculation that this microdeletion would have offered a selective advantage in adapting to the conditions in Europe in the initial period of migration out of Africa (as opposed to other global regions). Finally there is discussion of a factor eIF2-alpha which alters the expression of memory-repressor genes and also protein formation. Altering the factor had a corresponding effect on memories. This factor may have potential in memory disorders such as dementia although there is much work ahead.
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