I don't know if anyone at UCSB is studying
possible cures for schizophrenia, but there are
certainly a lot of scientists all over the world
who are working on this disease. There are
probably many private sources of funding. The
National Institute of Mental Health would be the
US government agency that would fund it. You can
see their information at:
Right now, the causes of schizophrenia aren't
clear. We know that people with schizophrenia have
high levels of a brain chemical (neurotransmitter)
called dopamine. People with high levels of
dopamine have hallucinations and other problems.
(People with too little dopamine have problems
too. For example, they have trouble moving.
Parkinson's disease is basically caused by low
Why do some people have this disease? There
is probably a genetic cause, but it does not seem
to be caused by one gene. It may be caused by
several, or even by different genes in different
people. Other factors might also make some people
more likely to develop it. We think this because
identical twins share the same genes, but if one
twin has schizophrenia it doesn't mean the other
one will. However, the other twin is much more
likely to have it than a sibling (brother or
sister) or a randomly-picked person. Some people
think that the environmental part may be due to
stress, a virus, brain damage, or other things. So
why can't we just lower the levels of dopamine
in someone's brain? Well there are drugs that
do that. They are often called
anti-psychotics. Some people get
dramatically better when they take them.
Unfortunately, it's very hard to fine-tune the
dosage and there are side effects that some people
find very unpleasant. One of the things that
makes dosing difficult is that it takes a while
for the drugs to take effect.
There will still be plenty of room for
researchers if you decide to study this disease.
Thanks for asking,
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