Local research yields new medication for illness

By Diana Trasatti
October 2, 2008

People diagnosed with the mental illness schizophrenia can have difficulty performing everyday functions. However, recent research being conducted in Radnor, Pa. by Diana Koziupa of the Penn Foundation is aiming to make significant advancements in the medication used to treat the cognitive factors afflicted by schizophrenia.

Some of the symptoms of schizophrenia include seeing figures that are not really present and hearing voices. According to Dr. Anthony Tomasco, professor of psychology, auditory hallucinations are more common and the culture and environment in which one is a part of will affect the images seen and the messages being said by the voices.

Anthony Carroll, 21, of Doversville, is one of the 30 million Americans affected by schizophrenia.

“You can go any direction with it. You can feel completely good or completely evil. It’s a challenge to balance it out in your head.”

Carroll has been diagnosed with schizophrenia for five years. After a decline into heavy drug use, he began experiencing the common symptoms of the illness.

Though schizophrenia can be inherited genetically, the effects of drug use can turn the gene that will cause visual and auditory hallucinations.

Genome studies have helped narrow down the cause of schizophrenia. A currently unknown gene gets turned on or off during prenatal development.

“Something interferes with the cognitive development,” Tomasco said. “Change in the neurotransmitters could turn on a bad gene. What has occurred to set that gene off? That’s the big question.”

Those who suffer from schizophrenia may have difficulty with day to day activities, but there is always the possibility of living regular lives. According to Tomasco, there are patients who experience remission and are helped by prescription medication.

Even when one’s life is affected by schizophrenia, it is still possible to be accomplish greatness. John Nash and Virginia Woolf were both diagnosed with schizophrenia. Nash went on to recieve the Nobel Prize for economics and was the subject of the Academy Awarding winning movie “A Beautiful Mind.” Woolf went on to become one the early great female author’s of the twentieth century.

The aim of this new study being conducted is to see if a new drug can successfully improve the cognitive functions of those with schizophrenia. One of the breakthroughs with this new research is that current patients do not have to change their current medications

Those who are eligible to participate in Koziupa’s research must be between the ages of 18 and 65 and must have been diagnosed with schizophrenia by the age of 35. It is also required that participants must be on one of the five medication, olanzapine, risperidone, paliperidone, quetiapine or aripiprazole.

Those interested in participating in the study can go to cognitivestudy.org.

Diana Trasatti

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