An antipsychotic drug may banish hallucinations and delusions by prompting neurons to churn out proteins that reshape the cells, a new study suggests. The results, published in the January 14 Science Signaling, may help scientists develop better psychiatric drugs, and might explain what goes wrong in some mental disorders.
Since the 1950s, haloperidol has been prescribed to quiet the debilitating symptoms that mark schizophrenia. Despite its long history, scientists still don’t know how the drug works, or why it starts to relieve symptoms within hours but takes weeks to fully work.
Haloperidol kicks off a cellular chain reaction that ultimately leads to changes in neuron shapes, neuroscientist Eric Klann of New York University and colleagues found. Haloperidol initiates a series of biochemical events that enables the protein mTORC1 to turn on the production of a flurry of new proteins.