A Schizophrenic Mouse?

January 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm 5 comments

Somewhere amidst the Pristiq banner, sidebar and pop-up ads, there is an article in Science Daily about a group of scientists at the Medical College of Georgia. They believe they’ve created a schizophrenic mouse by “reducing the inhibition of brain cells involved in complex reasoning and decisions about appropriate social behavior.”

Is that what passes for schizophrenia these days? Maybe in mice. In people, what has traditionally been called schizophrenia is marked by withdrawal, disordered thought and a break from reality — none of which are mutually exclusive with the ability to reason and behave in a socially “appropriate” manner. I’m not sure why they’d choose to attach that label to those traits but let’s face it, the definition of schizophrenia has always been pretty flexible.

While the purpose of this study is investigative, no gene or biological root has been definitively linked to what is known as schizophrenia. The only accurate way to observe schizophrenia in mice would be to find mice that are already suffering from the supposed brain disorder. Good luck with that. To me this whole study is like grafting two mice to determine what causes the occurrence of conjoined twins. Mimicking the effect and truly recreating the occurrence are two very different things. While this approach might otherwise be a step toward isolating a biological cause if there is one to find, the parameters are so far off as to render the study useless in identifying and treating schizophrenia — even if you buy the brain disorder model.

What’s the next step in treating these newly mentally ill mice? Drugs. They are experimenting with the introduction of currently marketed neuroleptics (antipsychotics). I find it interesting that they feel the need to create a schizophrenic mouse model for that, considering the fact that the way these drugs have been used on the labeled public since their inception in the 1950s could best be described as an experiment — albeit one in which the theories are reverse-engineered around the drugs. Of course in the human population, we’d never call it an experiment. It’s treatment.

So what have they really done? They’ve successfully recreated unpopular traits, placed them neatly in a box mislabeled schizophrenia, elevated “appropriate social behavior” to the status of a marker of good biological health and experimented on the existing experiment with drugs. Nothing new here. The real trick is going to be positioning Pristiq’s direct-to-consumer ads in a way that will appeal to the burgeoning psychotic mouse population.

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  • 1. susan  |  January 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I loved this piece. Thank you so much for reporting it.

  • 2. Amy B.  |  January 11, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Bravo! Wonder if they’ll get diabetes from the neuroleptics… Disgusting on every level, not to mention animal abuse, among the stated above good points. Let the experiments on the psychiatrists, Big Pharma CEO’s, and participants in the DSM, who promote forced treatment, begin!

  • 3. abellve  |  January 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Yeah, I wonder but I suppose that’s a whole other experiment — and one they’re not likely to get around to in a while.

  • 5. abellve  |  January 30, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Wow. Thanks for the link. It looks like there’s no end in sight. Maybe if they put the pigs in heels and corral them in with cats, the whole experiment will work itself out. I predict that this will be like the chemical imbalance theory — create half of a theory based on flawed and partial experiments, then sell the hell out of it, touting it is incontrovertible proof that the biological cause has been found and can be corrected chemically.



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