Israeli: Prevent Schizophrenia

Drugs to prevent schizophrenia might be better than trying to cure it, according to a Tel Aviv University professor. So far, it works on rats.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 10:00 PM

Picture of Schizophrenia's effect on brain
Picture of Schizophrenia's effect on brain
Israel news photo: NIMH

A revolutionary approach to schizophrenia has been developed by a Tel Aviv University researcher, whose experiments on rats show that preventing the disease may be more effective than groping for a cure for it.

Professor Ina Weiner explained that it is difficult to predict the onset of schizophrenia. She said that the mind-altering condition usually occurs in early adulthood but can be triggered in the womb by an infection.

"Pharmacological treatments for schizophrenia remain unsatisfactory, so clinicians and researchers like myself have started to dig in another direction," says Prof. Weiner. "The big question asked in recent years is if schizophrenia can be prevented."

A report by her research team used drugs to treat pregnant rats, which were given a substance known to induce a schizophrenia-like behavioral disorder in the offspring. They used risperidone and clozapine, two commonly used drugs to treat schizophrenia.

"Clinicians have suspected that these drugs can be used to prevent the onset of schizophrenia, but this is the first demonstration that such a treatment can arrest the development of brain deterioration," says Prof. Weiner. She says that the drugs work best when delivered during the rats' "adolescent" period, several months before they reached full maturity.