Do the body’s own marijuana-like compounds play a role in schizophrenia? $150,000 grant will help researchers find out.

June 1, 2016

Dr. Hsiao-Huei Chen was awarded $150,000 from the Ontario Mental Health Foundation to test whether blocking an enzyme called PTP1B can alleviate schizophrenia-like behaviors in mouse models of the condition. Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder, with symptoms that can include auditory hallucinations, false beliefs and often anxiety and depression. Dr. Chen previously found that PTP1B blocks production of one of the body’s own calming, marijuana-like substances called endocannabinoids. These compounds control how neurotransmitters are released in the brain, and problems with their production could lead to abnormal brain activity like schizophrenia. In addition, patients with schizophrenia have been found to have abnormal levels of endocannabinoids in their blood and spinal fluid. Dr. Chen’s new research will use a drug called Trodusquemine, which has already undergone clinical testing for the treatment of obesity, to shut down PTP1B in mouse models of schizophrenia.

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