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I was wondering what is the current research going on at UCSB for Schizophrenia? How is the research helping to find a cure or better understanding of this disease? How is the research being funded? What is the future prospects of finding a cure? THANK YOU very much!
Question Date: 2003-03-09
Answer 1:

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 dopamine.)

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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