Uncoupling dopamine and glutamine transmission in animal models of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia affects one per cent of Canadians — more than 300,000 people — causing personality and perceptual changes and thought disorders. Physical and biochemical changes in the brain are linked to schizophrenia, but the exact cause is not known. In addition to the devastating effects on patients and families, the economic burden of schizophrenia on the health care system is staggering. Unfortunately, current medications are only partially effective and result in undesirable side effects. Schizophrenia disrupts interactions between dopamine, an important neurotransmitter (messenger) in the brain and glutamine, an amino acid that is one of the building blocks of protein. Richard Swayze is investigating whether proteins critical to signalling between dopamine and glutamine systems are uncoupled in schizophrenia. He hopes this information will lead to more effective drug treatments that improve quality of life for schizophrenic patients and their families, and reduce costs to the health care system.