Schizophrenia is a disease that afflicts 3 million Americans.1
The World Health Organization ranks it as the third most disabling disease in the world.2
To make matters worse, schizophrenia is often misunderstood and the current drugs used to treat it are laden with harmful side effects.
Listen as Eventide CIO Finny Kuruvilla, MD, PhD, explains the symptoms associated with Schizophrenia and the exciting new therapies on the horizon that promise significant quality-of-life improvements for many patients.
Read the Transcript:
Finny Kuruvilla: “Schizophrenia is a disease that afflicts about 3 million Americans, so about 1%, just under 1% of Americans today. The WHO, the World Health Organization ranks it as the third most disabling disease in the world. So that speaks volumes as to how tragic this condition is.
A lot of people misunderstand schizophrenia. They think it’s having multiple personalities. And in slang, a lot of times you’ll hear people say, oh, you’re schizophrenic because you’re acting this way, like this person yesterday, and today you’re acting like another person.
In fact, that’s totally wrong. Schizophrenia is not multiple personalities, and it’s somewhat offensive, in fact, to speak that way to a schizophrenic. There’s a different disease called “MPD” or multiple personality disorder.
Schizophrenia instead represents a combination of what are called positive symptoms and negative symptoms. So positive symptoms are things like auditory hallucinations. So it’s very common that schizophrenics will hear voices speaking to them from, say, a wall, or sometimes they’ll have visual hallucinations; they’ll have disorganized speech.
And then on the negative side, schizophrenics will have symptoms like a very flat affect; they just don’t show a lot of emotions. Or a lack of taking initiative, someone who wants to basically sit around at home and not really want to get up and do things that most of us would feel comfortable doing.
So you can imagine how the combination of those positive and negative symptoms lead to such disability when patients have that. And you can imagine also how easily it is for someone to become homeless there because you’re creating a whole range of symptoms that are going to be very uncomfortable for people around you and are going to make it difficult for you to work well.
There haven’t been really very many new therapies in schizophrenia developed for decades. The mechanisms of action that have been developed have largely been the same with very little medical progress.
One company has developed a very different way to treat schizophrenia, and the clinical trial read out late in 2019. This clinical trial measured both positive as well as negative symptoms and found a significant improvement in both positive and negative symptoms.
And interestingly, one of the things that is a typical detriment of most of the schizophrenia therapies is a lot of side effects. This treatment that was approved did not have side effects different from placebo, which is amazing.
Whenever you have a therapy, you always want worry about how many more side effects a patient is going to suffer. But in this case, it was indistinguishable from placebo, which is extremely exciting. So we believe that this is something that has the potential to be a significant quality-of-life improvement for schizophrenic patients all over the world.