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Schizophrenia and Depression: Finding Better Treatments at Bar-Ilan University


Vendredi 26 Mars 2010

Prof. Jonathan Rabinowitz, of Bar-Ilan University's Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, has joined an international consortium of scientists and pharmaceutical leaders to develop effective drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia and depression. NEWMEDS (New Medications in Depression and Schizophrenia), funded by the European Union's Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), is the largest collaboration of its kind ever assembled.




Source : Bar Ilan University

Prof. Jonathan Rabinowitz, of Bar-Ilan University's Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, has joined an international consortium of scientists and pharmaceutical leaders to develop effective drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia and depression. NEWMEDS (New Medications in Depression and Schizophrenia), funded by the European Union's Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), is the largest collaboration of its kind ever assembled.

The initiative brings together top scientists from academic institutions and partners them with major global drug companies, including JNJ, Lundbeck, Astra Zeneva, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer, in an effort to develop new models and methods to enable novel treatments for schizophrenia and depression. Recently, the ten working groups of the IMI project gathered in Copenhagen at a unique forum enabling these scientists and pharmaceutical leaders to brainstorm about the problems facing the industry.

Prof. Rabinowitz heads the Working Group on Advanced Data Analysis Techniques. "Our objective in this five-year study is to develop advanced data analysis techniques to allow for shorter and more efficient clinical trials of antipsychotic and antidepressant medications," says Prof. Rabinowitz. "One of the major areas of our work is to differentiate placebo-active treatment response. For the purpose of this study, we are assembling at Bar-Ilan University, the largest repository anywhere of clinical trial data of these medications."

Prof. Rabinowitz's group, which includes Dr. Stephen Levine, from the Department of Criminology, and Dr. Nomi Werbelof, of the Weisfeld School of Social Work, has so far collected data on over 30,000 schizophrenic patients which will be analyzed in an effort to devise more effective drug treatment.

On another front, Prof. Rabinowitz recently published a landmark study focusing on suicide rates and predictors of suicide. The article, written in collaboration with one of his doctoral students, Shelly Bakst, and a colleague, Prof. Evelyn Bromet, of Long Island's Stony Brook University, appeared in the January 2010 issue of the prestigious scientific journal, Schizophrenia Research.

The research involves a study of patients who were admitted to hospitals in Suffolk County, NY, with some sort of psychotic illness. The researchers assembled a cohort of six hundred people, which they tracked for more than a decade, compiling a very large amount of data. Their analysis of the data enabled them to identify variables which are predictors of suicide attempts during the course of illness.

These variables, which include prior suicide attempts, severity of depression, and history of substance abuse, will enable psychiatric practitioners to prevent suicide among those who are at higher risk, by monitoring them and providing more hands-on therapeutic treatment.

"Greater attention to people with these risk factors may form the basis for early interventions aimed towards reducing the risk for subsequent suicide attempts," conclude the researchers, whose study was funded by the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health.

This latest study follows the researchers' publication last year in Schizophrenia Bulletin, which found that people with lower functioning exhibited a higher risk of attempted suicide or suicidal behavior. Schizophrenia Research and Schizophrenia Bulletin are among the top ten psychiatry journals worldwide.









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