Kynurenine crossroads

An enzyme that degrades kynurenine — a chemical by-product of tryptophan — can promote either neuroprotective or neurotoxic effects in the brain, depending on enzyme’s activity level, according to two recent studies. This suggests that this classical biochemical pathway holds clues for treating schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disease alike.

Read this article at Schizophrenia Research Forum.

Advancing drug discovery for schizophrenia

Over 200 researchers gathered at the lofty, fortieth floor location of the New York Academy of Sciences on 10-11 March 2011 to sift through clues — from genetic to epigenetic, dopaminergic to glutamatergic, as well as stem cell, brain imaging, and postmortem — that could be leveraged into treatment strategies for schizophrenia.

Three reports written for Schizophrenia Research Forum summarize the talks:

Probing the genome for schizophrenia drug targets Understanding schizophrenia’s origins has been expedited by new genetic approaches, but it remains limited by animal models.

New molecular targets for schizophrenia Compounds that tweak signaling between neurons, or inside of them, may offer ways to improve some symptoms of schizophrenia.

And dopamine, too The last talks focused on dopamine receptors — the target of current antipsychotics — to see whether compounds can be refined to treat schizophrenia more effectively, with fewer side effects.