Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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22 June 2016

One in Fifty

One in four of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives. One in fifty will develop a severe form, such as schizophrenia. Progress in developing treatments for schizophrenia has been slow. According to Oliver Howes, of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, there were two drugs approved for both heart failure and schizophrenia in the 1950s. Since then, 13 new approaches have been developed for patients with heart problems. But there has been no such progress with schizophrenia, and it’s the top reason for bed occupancy in NHS hospitals. Howes and colleagues aim to understand the biology that underpins it. They focus on a type of brain cell called microglia, which ‘prune’ damaged nerve cells in the brain. They’ve shown that microglia are unusually active in people who have or are at risk of schizophrenia (red regions). This could change our current understanding of the condition.

The MRC CSC's 'Hearts and Minds' theme week, part of the MRC's Festival of Medical Research

Written by Deborah Oakley

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