Antipsychotic Drug Offers Hope for Schizophrenia Patients: Study

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

In the United States, millions of individuals suffering from schizophrenia rely on antipsychotic drugs for treatment. However, these medications often come with unpleasant side effects and prove ineffective for a significant number of patients. Consequently, there is an urgent need to develop more advanced and efficient drugs to alleviate the debilitating symptoms of this severe mental disorder. 

A groundbreaking discovery made by scientists at Northwestern Medicine offers a promising new avenue for the development of more effective drugs to treat schizophrenia. Traditionally, researchers evaluated potential antipsychotic drug candidates by observing their effects on mouse behavior. However, the Northwestern lab employed a different approach, which outperformed traditional methods in predicting drug efficacy in human patients.  

The study unveiled a surprising finding: antipsychotic drugs, responsible for inhibiting overactive dopamine causing schizophrenia symptoms, interact with a distinct neuron than initially believed. Lead investigator Jones Parker, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, described this breakthrough as a landmark finding, as it significantly revises the understanding of the neural basis for psychosis.

Moreover, it charts a new path for developing treatments with fewer adverse side effects compared to current medications, offering new hope for patients with schizophrenia. The study was published in Nature Neuroscience. Published recently in Nature Neuroscience, the study focused on individuals with schizophrenia, who typically exhibit increased dopamine levels in a specific brain region called the striatum. Within the striatum, two primary types of specialized brain cells, known as neurons, exist: those with D1 dopamine receptors and those with D2 dopamine receptors. 

Neurons possess receptors on their surfaces, functioning like locks awaiting a specific key to activate them. In this analogy, the two populations of neurons express different locks: D1 receptors and D2 receptors. While dopamine acts as the key for both receptor types, antipsychotics specifically block the D2 receptor locks. As a result, experts previously assumed that these drugs primarily targeted neurons expressing D2 receptors. However, the groundbreaking discovery revealed a different story. 

Contrary to conventional belief, it was the neighboring striatal neurons expressing D1 receptors that responded to antipsychotic drugs in a manner that predicted clinical effectiveness. This finding challenges the long-standing dogma and opens up novel possibilities for drug development in the field of schizophrenia treatment. 

Schizophrenia is a devastating brain disorder that affects a significant portion of the population, with approximately 1 in 100 individuals suffering from the condition, translating to over 2.5 million people in the U.S. Existing antipsychotics have proven effective in managing hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions. However, these medications fall short when it comes to addressing other debilitating symptoms, including deficits in cognitive and social function. 

Furthermore, over 30% of patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia, accounting for more than 750,000 individuals in the U.S., do not respond to current antipsychotics at all. Additionally, the use of these drugs is limited by their adverse effects, which can include tardive dyskinesia (uncontrollable body movements) and parkinsonism (characterized by rigidity, tremors, and slowness of movement). The groundbreaking study, for the first time, shed light on how antipsychotic drugs modulate the brain region traditionally believed to cause psychosis in living animals. This unprecedented insight into the mechanisms of action of these drugs brings hope for improved treatments for individuals with schizophrenia. 

Jones Parker emphasized that the study exposed a significant gap in understanding how these drugs work, paving the way for the exploration of new therapeutic strategies to develop more effective antipsychotics. The study’s first author, Seongsik Yun, along with other researchers from Northwestern, played critical roles in this groundbreaking work. Together, their collective efforts have provided the scientific community with a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities of schizophrenia and potential avenues for improved treatment options. 

As research in this area continues to progress, the hope for better, more effective, and better-tolerated medications for individuals with schizophrenia continues to grow. The pursuit of these discoveries brings us one step closer to transforming the lives of those affected by this debilitating mental disorder. By focusing on the interaction between antipsychotics and D1 receptor-expressing striatal neurons, researchers can explore novel drug targets and develop medications that address the broader range of schizophrenia symptoms while minimizing adverse side effects. 



The recent finding from Northwestern Medicine scientists represents a significant breakthrough in the field of schizophrenia treatment. Their research has challenged previous assumptions and revealed promising new directions for drug development. As we move forward with this newfound understanding, there is renewed optimism for more effective and better-tolerated treatments that can significantly improve the lives of individuals living with schizophrenia. The collective efforts of researchers and the scientific community bring hope for a brighter future in the battle against this debilitating mental disorder. 

Leave a Reply


Free CME credits

Both our subscription plans include Free CME/CPD AMA PRA Category 1 credits.

Digital Certificate PDF

On course completion, you will receive a full-sized presentation quality digital certificate.

medtigo Simulation

A dynamic medical simulation platform designed to train healthcare professionals and students to effectively run code situations through an immersive hands-on experience in a live, interactive 3D environment.

medtigo Points

medtigo points is our unique point redemption system created to award users for interacting on our site. These points can be redeemed for special discounts on the medtigo marketplace as well as towards the membership cost itself.
  • Registration with medtigo = 10 points
  • 1 visit to medtigo’s website = 1 point
  • Interacting with medtigo posts (through comments/clinical cases etc.) = 5 points
  • Attempting a game = 1 point
  • Community Forum post/reply = 5 points

    *Redemption of points can occur only through the medtigo marketplace, courses, or simulation system. Money will not be credited to your bank account. 10 points = $1.

All Your Certificates in One Place

When you have your licenses, certificates and CMEs in one place, it's easier to track your career growth. You can easily share these with hospitals as well, using your medtigo app.

Our Certificate Courses