Newswise — Johns Hopkins researchers say that an experimental anticancer compound appears to have reversed behaviors associated with schizophrenia and restored some lost brain cell function in adolescent mice with a rodent version of the devastating mental illness.
The drug is one of a class of compounds known as PAK inhibitors, which have been shown in animal experiments to confer some protection from brain damage due to Fragile X syndrome, an inherited disease in humans marked by mental retardation. There also is some evidence, experts say, suggesting PAK inhibitors could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. And because the PAK protein itself can initiate cancer and cell growth, PAK inhibitors have also been tested for cancer.
In the new Johns Hopkins-led study, reported online March 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found that the compound, called FRAX486, appears to halt an out-of-control biological “pruning” process in the schizophrenic brain during which important neural connections are unnecessarily destroyed.