Schizophrenia Animal Model

Tech ID: TP-L-AC-004


Schizophrenia is a severely debilitating life-long disease with symptoms typically appearing in the early twenties, and consequently, it leaves a tremendous financial burden on patients and the society. Approximately 2.5 million Americans and 1% of the worldwide population (1 out of every 100 people) suffer from schizophrenia. The social and economic burden of schizophrenia on society has been estimated to be $32.5 billion and $4.3 billion per year within the United States and Canada, respectively. No cure exists for individuals with schizophrenia. Symptoms of the disease are managed through antipsychotic drugs. Current treatment strategies are not effective in controlling the wide array of symptoms that include cognitive defects, hallucinations, delusions, social withdrawal, flat affect and disorganized speech. One of the major impediments to discovering effective pharmacological intervention has been the lack of good animal models. Existing animal models of schizophrenia not only lack neuropathological features but also incur gross structural damage to the brain (i.e., hippocampus) thereby limiting their usefulness in studies of cognitive function and other neuropsychological testing paradigms.

Description of the Invention

This present invention is the first demonstration of an animal model showing several behavioural and neuropathological features of this complex disorder. The current model shows delayed-onset dopaminergic hyperresponsivity, impaired prepulse inhibition and cognitive deficits consistent with that observed in humans suffering from the disease. In addition, these animals show dopaminergic, thalamocortical and GABAergic synaptic abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex, neuronal loss in the hippocampus and enlarged ventricles – features described in postmortem studies of schizophrenia. As a result, the present animal model would be of particular interest to not only researchers interested in studying the biological mechanisms but also to pharmaceutical companies involved in identifying, developing, screening and testing new therapeutic agents (i.e., antipsychotic drugs, cognitive enhancers) for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Potential Advantages/Applications

  • Animals show many features consistent with human schizophrenics 
  • Useful for studying biological mechanisms of schizophrenia 
  • Useful for pharmaceutical companies testing new therapeutic agents

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Kirk Brown

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