by Barbara Wheeler, NARSAD manager of communications and media relations
NARSAD Independent Investigator Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D., led the international team of researchers that has identified a specific gene mutation strongly linked to schizophrenia that will be a new target for treatment. “This discovery might be the best target yet to come out of genetic studies of mental illness,” Dr. Sebat said. “This is what genomic medicine is all about, finding the relevant genes and using this genetic information to come up with a potential strategy for treatment.” This study builds on earlier research by Dr. Sebat and Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., a NARSAD Scientific Council member.
As we begin a new decade, the need to control costs – while improving the quality of care – is vitally important to all sectors of health care. The annual economic costs of mental illness in the United States are enormous. The direct costs of mental health care represent around 6 percent of overall health care cost. Among all Americans, 36.2 million people paid for mental health services totaling $57.5 billion in 2006 – the most recent year we have this type of data available. This places mental health care expenditures as this nation’s third costliest medical conditions, behind heart conditions and trauma, and tied with cancer.
NARSAD Independent Investigator Michael Allen, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Colorado, Boulder, report that smokers admitted to a psychiatric emergency service with a diagnosis of schizophrenia showed significantly lower agitation scores at four and 24 hours when treated with nicotine replacement patches compared with a placebo.
Over the December holidays, my husband went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Not my idea of fun, but he came back rejuvenated and energetic. He said the experience was so transformational that he has committed to meditating for two hours daily, one hour in the morning and one in the evening, until the end of March. He’s running an experiment to determine whether and how meditation actually improves the quality of his life.