GAITHERSBURG, Md., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Psychiatric Genomics, Inc. ("Psychiatric Genomics"), today announced new findings concerning the potential cause of schizophrenia. The results showed that the expression levels of genes encoding for energy metabolism and protein processing were selectively and consistently decreased in the brains of patients with schizophrenia. The data were presented at Neuroscience 2004, the Society for Neuroscience's 34th Annual Meeting, being held in San Diego, California from October 23 through October 27, 2004.
In the first study of its kind, scientists from Psychiatric Genomics microdissected neurons from the hippocampus of post-mortem brain samples of psychiatric patients and, using advanced microarray technology, compared them to those same neurons from people not affected by the disease. The specificity and reliability of the findings were documented by their high statistical significance, their replication in two different groups of schizophrenia patients, and the lack of such changes in neurons either from non-afflicted subjects or from patients with bipolar disease or depression.
E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., Associate Director for Laboratory Research at The Stanley Medical Research Institute, the nation's largest private provider of funds for research in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder stated, "These findings represent a paradigm shift in our understanding of the disease. Previously, schizophrenia was thought to be caused by changes in brain neurotransmitter receptors. These new results re-direct our focus to even more fundamental processes that could radically alter the way the disease is treated in the future."
"Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder affecting more than two million Americans and approximately 1-2% of the world's population," stated Richard E. Chipkin, PhD, President & CEO of Psychiatric Genomics. "Available drugs for schizophrenia only treat the symptoms of the disease. We look forward to utilizing the knowledge gained through this research to discover new drugs that are potentially safer and more effective."
About Psychiatric Genomics' Drug Discovery Approach
Psychiatric Genomics is the only biotechnology company that is basing drug discovery for psychiatric diseases on postmortem human brain samples. Through relationships with various institutions, the Company accesses the central nervous system tissue of normal controls and patients afflicted with illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and depression. The Company analyzes these tissues using state-of-the-art microarray technologies and identifies their distinctive gene expression patterns known as disease signatures.
In addition, using human neuronal cell culture systems, Psychiatric Genomics identifies drug signatures, which are the gene effects of clinically relevant therapeutics. This information is combined with the knowledge of the disease signatures to select a set of critical genes that are used as the endpoint for the Company's revolutionary system for drug discovery called the Multi-Parameter High Throughput Screen(SM) (MPHTS(SM)). The MPHTS(SM) simultaneously determines the action of new chemical entities on the function of multiple genes, thus using the power of genomics to discover the next generation of psychotherapeutics. The drugs developed through this approach have the potential for improved efficacy, reduced side effects and earlier onset of action.
About Psychiatric Genomics, Inc.
Psychiatric Genomics, Inc. creates and develops innovative small molecule drugs to treat mental illness. Many of these diseases such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression can be attributed to genetic factors. Using human tissues, the Company identifies gene expression patterns associated with psychiatric diseases. These data are incorporated into Psychiatric Genomics' proprietary Multi-Parameter High Throughput Screen(SM) method to rapidly discover unique therapeutic compounds.
About Energy Metabolism and Protein Processing Genes
The genes discovered by Psychiatric Genomics that were decreased in hippocampal neurons from patients with schizophrenia can be sub-divided into two broad categories. The first category is comprised of genes that control the neuron's energy metabolism, particularly those controlling the cell's "energy storehouse" -- the mitochondria. The second category of genes control protein processing (i.e. how proteins are broken down and removed from the cell). These same genes (the "ubiquitin gene family") were the subject of the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry recently awarded to Drs. Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko, and Irwin Rose.
About the Hippocampus:
The hippocampus is a small area of the brain that is involved in the control of attention, learning, memory and cognition. Psychiatric Genomics was particularly interested in studying this brain area because these functions are disrupted in patients with schizophrenia. In addition, brain imaging studies of patients suffering from this disease have shown that the hippocampus is smaller than in normal controls.
Psychiatric Genomics, Inc.
Dr. Richard E. Chipkin, President & CEO,
David Theil, CFO
Psychiatric Genomics, Inc.