31 January 2006

Toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia

You might remember my suggesting that most "mental illness" would be found to be, in fact, bodily illness, either genetic or infectious. Now there's some more evidence for that, at least in the case of schizophrenia:
Research published in Procedings of the Royal Society B, shows how the invasion or replication of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in rats may be inhibited by using anti-psychotic or mood stabilising drugs.

The researchers tested anti-psychotic and mood stabilising medications used for the treatment of schizophrenia on rats infected with T. gondii and found they were as, or more, effective at preventing behaviourial alterations as anti-T. gondii drugs. This led them to believe that T. gondii may have a role in the development of some cases of schizophrenia.

Dr Joanne Webster from Imperial College London, and lead researcher said: "Although we are certainly not saying that exposure to this parasite does definitely lead to the development of schizophrenia, this and previous studies do show there may be a link in a few individuals, providing new clues for how we treat toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia."
I've said it before, and I'll say it again—conditions like schizophrenia and depression are probably best understood as symptoms, rather than illnesses in and of themselves.

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