Toward Biological Subtypes in Schizophrenia: Potential Role of NMDA-Receptor Antibodies

I had the opportunity to attend the 4th Biennial Conference of the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS), held April 5-9, 2014, in Florence, Italy. The theme of the meeting was “Fostering Collaboration in Schizophrenia Research.” Approximately 1500 delegates from across the globe attended the meeting, and there were about 300 oral presentations and over 800 poster presentations. One of my “take-home messages” from the meeting (a sentiment echoed by other attendees from my department) was the absence of a major breakthrough in the field with regard to diagnosis or treatment. Nonetheless, through my lens as an eternal optimist, despite the lack of seminal findings, there is evidence of progress.

One potential impediment to progress in schizophrenia research is the use of symptom-based diagnosis, which itself was not designed for biological validity. Towards “precision medicine for psychiatry,” the NIMH Research Domain Criteria project aims for a diagnostic system based on improved understanding of the biological and psychosocial basis of mental disorders.2

Another “take-home message”: the immunology of schizophrenia has become a credible area of research focus—one that is fast-moving towards translation of findings into therapeutic interventions. At the SIRS meeting, I attended a symposium titled “Potential Role of NMDA-Receptor Antibodies in Schizophrenia,” in which the question was asked, “Is NMDA-receptor encephalitis a schizophrenia subtype?”3 And while the jury is still out regarding a definitive answer, the question itself represents an important step towards “precision medicine” and an improved understanding of the pathophysiology of psychotic symptoms.

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Thanks very much for posting the news from SIRS.

I have a question I wanted to ask someone who went there and since you are the only person I can contact, would you be kind to answer my following questions?

If you remember, last year in May there was a breaking news about a way to treat schizophrenia symptoms with NO, following a study by Dr Serdar Dursun and his colleague Dr Jamie Hallak, that took place back in 2008-2010. I understood Dr Jamie Hallak presented on the conference and talked about that very study.
Now, in the last year paper they claimed that the effect of the treatment with the blood pressure drug was almost a miracle for the 20 patients they examined in the study. My question is - how come they have not done any more experiments with the same drug (since the results back then were so encouraging) ever since 2008-2010? If the results were so good why haven’t they continued with the research? I can not believe that the treatment that had shown such promise was not taken further. I can not believe they were not able to raise more funds to continue with it as it sounded so great. It is 2014 now and we talk about the experiment that took place some 5-6 years ago and was not elaborated further ever since.
I ask this because I’ve put so much hope in that news and searching on the net I understood it hasn’t moved forward in so many years. I became suspicious.

What is your personal opinion on this?

Best of regards,