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July 9, 2007

Early Stage of New Bipolar Drug Production Shows Promise

Bipolar Disorder is currently treated with mood stabilizing drugs such as Lithium or Valproic Acid (Depakote). Some people have reported side effects with these medications, and when bipolar patients are prescribed an antipsychotic, side effects may be added. The development of a new drug that works as well as the current ones, but without the debilitating or uncomfortable side effects, may revolutionize quality of life for those living with bipolar disorder.

Current mood stabilizers act by blocking an enzyme, glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3). Alan Kozikowski of the University of Illinois in Chicago and his co-workers decided to attempt a new drug that used compounds that blocked an enzyme similar to GSK-3. They hypothesized that if the compound could block a similar enzyme, it may have an effect on GSK-3.

After much testing, they found that the compound did in fact block GSK-3, similar to current mood stabilizers. After refining the compounds ability to block the GSK-3 and get into the brain with ease, they studied its effects on mice with "mania". The Journal of the American Chemical Society featured the mouse study and showed that,

In a mouse model of 'mania', hyperactive mice were calmed and moved around much less when given the new candidate drug.

It may be years before these research results become useful to patients.

The new compound looks promising, but a lot of work remains to be done before it will be ready for human trials. The next step is to make molecules that bind as selectively to GSK-3 as possible, he adds, so that they don't interfere with the action of other, similar enzymes.

New candidate drug for bipolar disorder: A designed alternative to lithium shows early promise. News@Nature.com

Read Full Article:
Structure-Based Design Leads to the Identification of Lithium Mimetics That Block Mania-like Effects in Rodents. Possible New GSK-3 Therapies for Bipolar Disorders. Alan P. Kozikowski, Irina N. Gaisina, Hongbin Yuan, Pavel A. Petukhov, Sylvie Y. Blond, Allison Fedolak, Barbara Caldarone, and Paul McGonigle. The Journal of the American Chemical Society

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