New stem cell lines developed from the skin of adults living with bipolar disorder are providing researchers at the University of Michigan Health System an unprecedented opportunity to delve into the genetic and biological underpinnings of the devastating mood disorder. Scientists will be able to link new findings such as how gene expression is affected by different medications to extensive clinical and demographic data from the cell donors, who are also participants in an ongoing long-term study of hundreds of individuals with bipolar disorder. The new research comes as the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund, based at the U-M Depression Center, prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of its establishment by Waltraud "Wally" Prechter following the July 2001 death of her husband, Heinz.
Drug development in the blink of an eye The development of drugs for brain-related conditions is not an efficient process; only 8% of candidate drugs that enter clinical trials gain FDA approval. A key reason for this low success rate is a lack of preclinical tests that accurately predict drug efficacy and detect unwanted side effects. But now, Jeremy Nathans and colleagues, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, have developed a new preclinical approach that they hope can be used alongside current strategies to guide more efficient drug development for brain-related conditions. In the study, Nathans and colleagues show that a wide variety of psychoactive compounds - sedatives; antipsychotic, antidepressant, and antiseizure drugs; and drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, morphine, and phencyclidine - induce characteristic alterations in eye movements in mice and that monitoring these changes can be used to rapidly and quantitatively assess the response of mice to these compounds.
Over the last decade more children and teenagers and fewer seniors have been admitted to hospital for short stays for a primary psychiatric diagnosis, a researcher from the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, State University of New York wrote in Archives of General Psychiatry. The author added that private health insurance appears to be covering a smaller proportion of inpatient days among all age groups. Overall, there was an increase from 1970 through the 1990s in short-stay inpatient care for psychiatric conditions, while long-term stays dropped during the same period, the researcher explained. From the 1990s until the turn of the millennium, less has been spent in short-stay settings as policy makers and mental health advocates stressed the value of treatment alternatives with less restrictiveness and less negative stigma.
Positive emotions like joy and compassion are good for your mental and physical health, and help foster creativity and friendship. But people with bipolar disorder seem to have too much of a good thing. In a new article to be published in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Scienc e, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychologist June Gruber of Yale University considers how positive emotion may become negative in bipolar disorder. One of the characteristics of bipolar disorder is the extreme periods of positive mood, or mania. People in the grip of mania also have increased energy, sleep less, and experience extreme self-confidence. At first glance, this may sound good and even desirable. However, during these times of mania, people with bipolar disorder often take dangerous risks, run up their credit card debt, and wreak havoc in marriages.
Research to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, may explain why some antipsychotic drugs can promote overeating, weight gain, and insulin resistance. Olanzapine, an atypical antipsychotic drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, has been associated with body weight gain and impaired glucose homeostasis in humans and in experimental animals. As part of a Dutch research consortium, studies led by Simon Evers (University of Groningen, the Netherlands) sought to reveal underlying mechanisms for olanzapine's metabolic effects by studying healthy adult male volunteers. The research was motivated by observations of what co-author Anton Scheurink described as "a mysterious interaction between schizophrenia and diabetes .