A team of researchers from around the world have come across an early sign of hope for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia using Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
The team, from the United Kingdom and China have shown proof brains may have the ability to repair themselves and fight off the mental illness.
Following 98 patients with schizophrenia and 83 without, the team used MRI technology and a special method called “covariance analysis,” to distinguish the increase of brain tissue. This is the first time such a method has been used to prove the brain’s ability to reverse the illness’ effects, and opens doors to possible cures.
“Even the state-of-art frontline treatments aim merely for a reduction rather than a reversal of the cognitive and functional deficits caused by the illness,” said research team member Dr. Lena Palaniyappan, Medical Director at the Prevention & Early Intervention Program for Psychoses at London Science Centre.
“Our results highlight that despite the severity of tissue damage, the brain of a patient with schizophrenia is constantly attempting to reorganize itself, possibly to rescue itself or limit the damage,” Palaniyappan said.
Now that the research team has found that brain tissue can indeed repair itself, even at a minimal rate, their next step is reportedly to continue regularly scanning the brains of patients with early schizophrenia.
“These findings are important not only because of their novelty and the rigor of the study, but because they point the way to the development of targeted treatments that potentially could better address some of the core pathology in schizophrenia,” explains Dr. Jeffrey Reiss, another member of the research team from the London health Sciences Centre.
“Brain plasticity and the development of related therapies would contribute to a new optimism in an illness that was 100 years ago described as premature dementia for its seemingly progressive deterioration,” he said.
The study outlining the discovery was published in the current issue of the journal Psychology Medicine under the title “Dynamic cerebral reorganization in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia: a MRI-derived cortical thickness study.”