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Pr Edwin Torrey: Could schizophrenia be triggered by a virus?

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Pr. Edwin Fuller Torrey: Could schizophrenia be triggered by a virus?

 

 

 

 

CLEMENTINE:

Hello! You’re on MD-FM INSIGHT, the first medical web radio. Today we’ll be devoting our program to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia

 

We interviewed Dr. Edwin Fuller Torrey, the founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, and director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Dr. Torrey supports the idea that severe mental illness, like schizophrenia, is due to biological factors –not social factors. During the 2014 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, in New York, Dr. Torrey gave a presentation on recent hypotheses on the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.

 

 

CLEMENTINE:

Hello Dr. Torrey. Can you tell us about your hypothesis on how schizophrenia might be triggered?

 

TORREY:

One of the newer theories about the cause of schizophrenia is the work that we are working on, that suggests that schizophrenia is a disease that has infectious agents as one of the cause. There’s a lot of interest now in the fact that there’s evidence for inflammation in schizophrenia and there’s differences in abnormalities in the immune system. We think these are tied to the fact that infectious agents are playing some role in this. And we are especially interested in some of the infectious agents like toxoplasma gondii, which is a parasite, and herpes 1.

 

CLEMENTINE:

Can you tell us more specifically about this evidence for inflammation in schizophrenia?

 

TORREY:

There is clear evidence there’s inflammation in schizophrenia. The strongest genetic findings point to the area on chromosome 6, that has to do with immune functioning. There’s also evidence from the work that we’re doing looking at antibodies to various infectious agents, that there’s increased antibodies to various infectious agents, and there’s a lot of research now showing that there’s inflammation in schizophrenia. And so all of that’s being followed up but this is relatively new compared to a few years ago.

 

CLEMENTINE:

And would that change the way we treat schizophrenia?

 

TORREY:

I think that the treatment of schizophrenia is going to change over the next decade. We have the traditional antipsychotics, which work reasonably well in many people, clozapine is the best of those antipsychotics and, in the United States, we use it much less than we really should. But, if we are right that inflammation is playing a role on this, we are already starting to look at some anti-inflammatories. Even things like aspirin that may improve the symptoms. That’s new. And I think that we are also going to be looking at treatments that actually target the infectious agents that we think get in the brain and change the chemistry in the brain. And, if we’re correct on that, that should give us much more effective treatments to work with in the future.

 

CLEMENTINE:

So, what is your take home message for clinicians?

 

TORREY:

The take home message on this condition is number one: severe mental illness like schizophrenia and bipolar disorders are brain diseases. Number two: we need to treat them much better than we do at this point in the United States. And if we do what we know we should do, we could improve these things a great deal for most of these people.

 

CLEMENTINE: 

This show is over. By visiting the MD-FM website, you can check out the themes of the programs we will be offering you regularly. See you soon on MD-FM!

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