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The Windows of the Soul

VIEWS: 97 PAGES: 4

									       Neuroscience Institute of Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders. JULY 2005
                                                                                                           The Windows
                                                                                                           of the Soul
                                   In Memory of Prof. Neil McConaghy                                       How does schizophrenia
                                                                                                           affect the ability to share
                                   O
                                  n Sunday 5th June, many distinguished scientists                                                                        The three key brain areas
                                                                                                                                                          thought to be involved in social
                                  joined Neil’s family at the South Chapel in the
                             Eastern Suburbs Crematorium to bid goodbye to a much                          attention and empathy ?                        cognition: the medial prefrontal
                                                                                                                                                          cortex (blue); the temporal poles
                             loved colleague. Neil was the inspirational researcher                                                                       (yellow) and the superior


                                                                                                           F   or some families caring for a              temporal sulcus (red).
                             and teacher who had mentored many in the key group of                                                                        Right: Brain tissue showing the
                             scientists who started NISAD, and was one of the first                            schizophrenia-affected relative, one of    infolded surface of the superior
                             Australian psychiatrists to champion the neuroscientific                      the most disturbing behavioural effects is     temporal sulcus.
                             techniques which would come to dominate psychiatric                           the emotional ‘blunting’ or lack of
                                                                                                                                                          to arrive at a measure of the gaze direction
                             research. As Founding Chairman of the Scientific                              empathy shown by many patients. Some
                                                                                                                                                          sensitivity of each group.
      Advisory Committee, Neil played a vital role in formulating the structures and                       parents, for instance, refer to the “glass
                                                                                                                                                               Summarising her results, Dr Langdon
      procedures which became the foundation of NISAD’s growth into the diverse                            wall” that has appeared between
                                                                                                                                                          reports that, contrary to expectations, the
      and internationally recognised institute it is today.                                                themselves and their son or daughter after
                                                                                                                                                          schizophrenia subjects were abnormally
                                                                                                           onset. Neuroscience refers to this category
                                                                                                                                                          over-responsive to the gaze direction of the
                                                                                                           of empathetic interpersonal abilities as
                                                                                                                                                          image, not under-responsive as predicted.
                                                                                                           ‘social cognition’, and asserts that it is
                                                                                                                                                              This surprising result suggests that the
                                                                                                           severely impaired by schizophrenia.
Early Intervention Poster Goes National                                                                         Ongoing NISAD studies at the
                                                                                                                                                          emotional blunting and unresponsiveness
                                                                                                                                                          observed in schizophrenia may not be due
                                                                                                           University of Newcastle have revealed that
A    ustralia’s first schizophrenia early
     intervention      awareness      poster
received an auspicious official launch at
                                                           hospitals and doctor’s waiting rooms, the
                                                           poster provides full information on
                                                           schizophrenia’s early symptoms, how the
                                                                                                           schizophrenia subjects and their family
                                                                                                           members exhibit abnormal eye scanpaths
                                                                                                                                                          to deficits in attention sharing, but rather
                                                                                                                                                          to deficits in interpreting the intention of
                                                                                                                                                          interpersonal ‘signals’ received from
                                                                                                           when viewing emotionally expressive face
the South Sydney Police & Community                        brain is affected, and what treatments are                                                     others.
                                                                                                           images, and have suggested that such
Youth Club (PCYC) on 20 May, attended                      available.
by NISAD Patron and Governor of NSW                             Thousands of the posters are now
                                                                                                           scanpath anomalies could be linked to          Feeling what others feel
                                                                                                           deficits in social cognition. And at the
Prof. Marie Bashir AC.                                     being distributed to a wide variety of
    Speaking from her distinguished
professional background in youth and
                                                           venues throughout every State in Australia
                                                           with the help of State Branches of the
                                                                                                           Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, a
                                                                                                           NISAD affiliated team is investigating the     D     r Langdon’s second study was devised
                                                                                                                                                                to investigate the degree to which
                                                                                                                                                          schizophrenia causes misinterpretation of
                                                                                                           remedial effects of training people to
community psychiatric services, Prof.                      Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia                                                         the intentions or emotional states of
                                                                                                           deliberately correct these scanpath
Bashir applauded the NISAD initiative                      (MIFA). These posters carry the single                                                         others.
                                                                                                           abnormalities.
which will give young onset sufferers                      contact number of 1800 985 944, which                                                               Empathy has been described as the
                                                                                                                Now, Dr Robyn Langdon and
a better chance of receiving early                         connects callers to the MIFA head office in                                                    ability to feel an emotional response,
                                                                                                           collaborators at the Macquarie Centre for
intervention therapy.                                      their State. Hundreds of additional posters                                                    which is more appropriate to someone
                                                                                                           Cognitive Science have completed two
    At present it is common for young                      have been distributed by NISAD directly to                                                     else’s situation than to one’s own: that is, to
                                                                                                           studies* further investigating social
people to develop increasingly severe                      all Area Health Services in NSW, and many                                                      ‘put yourself in another’s shoes’. Dr
                                                                                                           cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.
schizophrenia symptoms for up to 5 years                   requests for copies from organisations are                                                     Langdon’s method of measuring this ability
after onset without being diagnosed and                    being received every week.
                                                                Many thanks to PCYC manager
                                                                                                           The eye of the beholder                        was to use cartoons of simple emotional
treated. During this delay, symptomatic
thinking      and     behaviour     become
entrenched, often leading to denial and
                                                           Samatha Sidwell, Aboriginal Elder Sylvia
                                                           Scott, Member for Heffron Kristina              D     r Langdon’s first study was based on
                                                                                                                 the hypothesis that schizophrenia’s
                                                                                                           social cognitive deficits may be associated
non-compliance when diagnosis and                          Keneally (representing Minister for Health
treatment are offered. The poster is                       Morris Iemma), ‘Triple J’ radio presenter       with a reduced ability to share attention
designed to alert family members to the                    Maya Jupiter, and Rabbitoh’s Captain Brian      with others, and that this deficit may be
symptoms, and to provide a contact                         Fletcher for making the launch occasion         measured by testing the automatic reflex of
number from where expert advice can be                     memorable.                                      detecting and following another person’s
gained.                                                         The poster, which was funded by NSW        change in direction of gaze. Though
    Displayed in civic centres, social clubs,              Health, can be viewed and downloaded            simple, this reflex is a fundamental
corporate workplaces and hotels, as well as                from www.nisad.org.au                           indicator of shared attention.
                                                                                                                The experiment involved 30 subjects
                                                                                                           with schizophrenia and 24 healthy              One of the picture puzzles used to measure research
                                                                                                           controls. The test apparatus was a             subjects’ ability to interpret the emotional content of
                                                                                                                                                          social interactions. Subjects were asked to assign a pair
                                                                                                           series of pictures                             of facial expressions (A, B or C) to each frame of the
                                                                                                           flashed on a com-                              cartoon strip above. The correct sequence is C, A, B.
                                                                                                           puter screen of a
                                                                                                                                                          situations; to blank out the facial
                                                                                                           female head which
                                                                                                                                                          expressions of the characters involved, and
                                                                                                           looked either right or
                                                                                                                                                          to ask study subjects to choose which
                                                                                                           left, before a ‘target’
                                                                                                                                                          facial expressions matched each frame of
                                                                                                           red star appeared in
                                                                                                                                                          the cartoon.
                                                                                                           one of the empty
                                                                                                                                                              After comparing the results of 22
                                                                                                           boxes shown in each
                                                                                                                                                          schizophrenia-affected subjects and 18
                                                                                                           side. The interval
                                                                                                                                                          healthy controls, it was found that
                                                                                                           between the head
                                                                                                                                                          schizophrenia subjects scored significantly
                                                                                                           turning     right/left
L-R: NISAD Executive Director Debbie Willcox with NISAD Patron Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC,                                                  lower than controls in choosing correct
Governor of NSW, and poster designer Alan Tunbridge. Right: Member for Heffron Kristina Keneally.          and the appearance
                                                                                                                                                          facial expressions, and that the lowest
                                                                                                           of the target was
                                                                                                                                                          scores were recorded by those with the
                                                                                                           varied from 100 to 800 milliseconds.
                                                                                                                                                          longest duration of illness.
                                                                                                                Subjects were asked to simply click the
                                                                                                                                                              This study provides the first direct
                                                                                                           space bar on the keyboard as soon as
                                                                                                                                                          empirical evidence that schizophrenia
                                                                                                           possible after seeing the target star. By
                                                                                                                                                          impairs the ability to attribute emotions
                                                                                                           varying the head turn direction, the speed
                                                                                                                                                          appropriately on the basis of how another
                                                                                                           of change in the sequence of images, and
                                                                                                                                                          person is likely to be feeling in specific
                                                                                                           recording the speed of space bar clicks, the
                                                                                                                                                          circumstances.
                                                                                                           research team was able to assess how much
                                                                                                           each subject was distracted by the gaze        * Langdon R, Coltheart M, Ward P. Cognitive
                                                                                                                                                          Neuropsychiatry (in press 2005)
                                                                                                           direction of the central head.                 * Langdon R, Corner T, McLaren J, Coltheart M, Ward P.
                                                                                                                Subject’s ‘scores’ were then processed    Neuropsychologia (in press 2005)


 INSIDE           I Volunteers Make a Difference...... I Mice on Medication...... I APRN: The Birth of Nationwide Psychosis Research......
IVE DIRECTOR FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FROM THE EXECUTIVE                                                              Rotary Enables Research Volunteers to
                                                                                                                         Make a Difference
                                                                                                                         NISAD connects volunteers,
                                                                                                                         brain donors and DNA
                                                                                                                         donors into a new force for
                                                                                                                         research.

                                                                                                                         P   rior to NISAD's inception in 1996, very
                                                                                                                             little schizophrenia research was
                                                                                                                         happening in NSW, largely due to the
                                                                                                                         dearth of bedrock research resources such
                                                                                                                         as volunteer patients and post-mortem
                                                                                                                         brain tissue. That's why NISAD's first
                                                                                                                         priority was to establish the Schizophrenia
At the NISAD poster launch. L-R: Executive Director Debbie Willcox, NISAD Patron Her Excellency Prof. Marie Bashir
AC, and South Sydney PCYC Manager Samantha Sidwell .                                                                     Research Register, and the 'Gift of Hope'
                                                                                                                         Tissue Donor Program. Since then, the
                                                                                                                         DNA Bank has been added to complete the
                                                                                                                         Institute's set of basic research resources.
                                                                                                                              With the support of the Schizophrenia
                                                                                                                         Fellowship of NSW and successful TV
                                                                                                                         appeals, the Register, 'Gift of Hope' and
                                                                                                                         DNA Bank programs have now enrolled            NISAD Research Officer Lisa Azzizi conducts a friendly
                                                                                                                         close to 1,500 volunteers. These volunteers    interview with a volunteer.

                                                                                                                         include a mix of patients, their family        volunteers are still waiting to be
                                                                                                                         members and people with no medical             interviewed.
                                                                                                                         connection to schizophrenia.                       In     order      to     facilitate    the
                                                            Many thanks to Members of Botany Bay Rotary Club.            The unique differences                         processing of the backlog of existing
                                                                                                                         between individuals                            registrants, as well as the constant stream
                                                            Botany Bay Rotary                                                                                           of new volunteers, NISAD has used a
                                                                                                                             Interviewing each person to
                                                            answers the question                                         record their details, including
                                                                                                                                                                                     $60,000 grant from the
                                                                                                                                                                                     Australian     Rotary      Health

                                                            T   he question was, “How can we help
                                                                NISAD?” Botany Bay Rotarians
                                                            answered it by organising a Trivia Night in
                                                                                                                         such information as individual
                                                                                                                         and family medical history, is an
                                                                                                                         essential part of making every
                                                                                                                                                                                     Research Fund together with
                                                                                                                                                                                     additional funding from the
                                                                                                                                                                                     Institute to employ two new
                                                            October at Mascot RSL for 130 members. A                     volunteer's contribution as                                 Clinical Assessment Officers -
                                                            great night was enjoyed by all, raising                      valuable as possible.                                       Dr Sarah Russell and Gali
NISAD banners outside Sydney Tower.                         $3,000 for NISAD’s research.                                     These assessments help to                               Lawrence.
                                                                                                                         'characterise'     the  research                                   Later in 2005 NISAD will
Flying the Flag in the                                      Telstra Makes the                                            performance, brain tissue or DNA                            be investing more funds in
City Centre                                                 Connection                                                   provided by volunteers. Because
                                                                                                                         the essence of the research is to
                                                                                                                                                                                     staff and infrastructure to
                                                                                                                                                                                     ensure the ongoing success of
G    enerously sponsored by Macquarie
     Bank, NISAD marked Schizophrenia
Awareness Week 15-21 May by displaying
                                                             A  s part of the Schizophrenia Awareness
                                                                Week campaign, Telstra generously
                                                                                                                         detect     differences  between
                                                                                                                         groups of individuals, and
                                                                                                                                                                                     these vital research resource
                                                                                                                                                                                     programs.
                                                            allowed NISAD to set up information                          identify their causes. The more
bright red banners in Pitt Street Mall
                                                            booths in the foyers of their Sydney Pitt                    information researchers have                                 How you can help
and Philip Street. Many thanks to the City
                                                            and Elizabeth Street buildings, and in their                 about each participant or donor,                             find the answer
of Sydney, and Screengraphics Printing for
                                                            Exhibition Street office in Melbourne. Over                  the more powerful the research                      A new brochure has been produced
their contributions.
                                                            1,200 staff received literature and a copy of                results will be.                               appealing for volunteers for all three
                                                            the Early Intervention Poster. Many thanks                       Due to the overwhelming interest and       NISAD infrastructure programs. So if you
                                                            to key Telstra organisers Cherry Parker and                  support from the community, the                would like to make a difference to the
                                                            Emma Reid.                                                   successful recruitment of such a large         progress of schizophrenia research, just
                                                                                                                         number of volunteers has outstripped the       call (02) 9295 8407 to have a copy mailed
                                                                                                                         resources that NISAD has been able to          to you, or simply log on to
                                                                                                                         provide to support the programs.               www.nisad.org.au to read about the pro-
                                                                                                                         Therefore around half of the registered        grams and download a Registration Form.



                                                                                                                         The Chair goes to the                          eventually appointed to the Chair will be
                                                                                                                                                                        prominent in this field.
                                                                                                                         University of.........                              The next question was about where the
At Parliament House L-R: TRC Data Systems Manager                                                                                                                       Chair should be located, and discussions
Donna Sheedy, Helen Blake and TRC Director Prof.
Clive Harper.
                                                            Management at Telstra’s Pitt Street office take a keen
                                                                                                                         A   t the ‘Spark of Genius’ event held last
                                                                                                                             year the NSW Minister for Health
                                                                                                                                                                        were held with a number of potential host
                                                                                                                                                                        institutions before arriving at a short list of
Recognition for TRC                                         interest in NISAD literature: Roy Watman, Mary
                                                            Mallioatakis, Perry Tsiamouslis, Tim Jenson and Cherry
                                                                                                                         Morris Iemma MP announced a recurrent
                                                                                                                         annual grant of $0.5M
                                                                                                                                                                        three: the University of New South
                                                                                                                                                                        Wales/Prince of Wales Medical Research
Volunteer Helen                                             Parker.
                                                                                                                         to NISAD to establish                          Institute, University of Newcastle, and
                                                                                                                         Australia’s first University                   University of Sydney.
H    elen Blake has been working as a
     volunteer administrator at the NSW
Tissue Resource Centre (TRC) for two days
                                                                                                                         Chair of Schizophrenia
                                                                                                                         Research - with an
                                                                                                                                                                             At the 13 July Board meeting, the
                                                                                                                                                                          Directors of NISAD accepted the
                                                                                                                         additional commitment                                       conjoint proposal of the
a week over the past three years. Her
                                                                                                                         to underwrite a further                                       University of NSW/POWMRI,
generous contribution was recognised at a
                                                                                                                         $0.5M p.a. of fundrais-                                        and announced that this
NSW Parliament House occasion in May,
                                                                                                                         ing efforts for the Chair.                                      university will host and
where Minister for Charities Grant
                                                                                                                             Consultation
McBride presented her with a certificate.                                                                                                                                                co-support the Chair and
                                                                                                                         immediately began with
Helen continues to work for the ‘Using Our                                                                                                                                               his/her research team. It is
                                                                                                                         NISAD’s senior scientists
Brains’ donor program, which operates                                                                                                                                             expected that this team will
                                                                                                                         to determine the field of
alongside NISAD’s ‘Gift of Hope’                             First thing in the morning, NISAD’s Lee Drury
                                                                                                                                                                              constitute a new and powerful centre
                                                                                                                         research expertise in which the
brain donor program.                                         ambushes Telstra’s Ian Tyrrell - but all in a good cause.                                                                for schizophrenia research
                                                                                                                         Chair should be active, and in
                                                                                                                                                                                      in Australia.
                                                                                                                         which institute or university it
                                                                                                                                                                                           NISAD, the University of
    Members of The NISAD Society                                                                                         should be based.
                                                                                                                                                                                    NSW and the Prince of Wales
                                                                                                                             In August the NISAD Board
   will soon receive their invitations to the exclusive 2005
                                                                                                                         approved the proposal that the Chair                    Medical Research Institute will
     Cocktails & Consciousness event - to be held at The                                                                                                                now work in partnership on the interna-
   Garvan Institute on 20 October. If you’ve been thinking                                                               should specialise in developmental neuro-
   about joining, please do so before the end of September                                                               biology of behaviour and cognition – a field   tional search for the scientist who will
   so that yourself and three of your guests can join us for                                                             which       includes      the very   latest    occupy Australia’s first University Chair in
      an inspirational evening! Just call (02) 9295 8407.                                                                technological developments in genetics         Schizophrenia Research. The position is
                                                                                                                         and tissue-based research. Whoever is          expected to be filled in early 2006.
Page 2. HeadLines. July 2005.
How Medications Alter Genes APRN - The Birth of a National
NISAD’s Dr Albert Chetcuti  Program for Psychosis Research
                                                         an inherited genetic alteration have an
                                                         abnormality present in the DNA of
uses mice to explore how                                 virtually all their body cells, which can be
drugs affect human genes.                                                                                        NISAD Founding Chairman
                                                         passed on to their offspring. More than
                                                         4,000 diseases are thought to stem from                 Prof. Stan Catts rallies
A   lthough each cell in the human body
    contains a full complement of genes
contained in DNA, cells use genes
                                                         genes inherited from parents.
                                                              Acquired changes in the profile of gene            support for a national effort
                                                         expression, however, affect which cells                 against psychotic disorders.
selectively. Many genes encode proteins
                                                         express which genes, and how strongly a
that are unique to a particular kind of cell
                                                         particular gene is expressed. A major
and that give the cell its character - making
a brain cell, say, different from a bone cell.
                                                         influence on the pattern of gene expression
                                                         is due to a variety of environmental causes.
                                                                                                                 I  n 1992 Prof. Stan Catts initiated and
                                                                                                                    coordinated the movement of scientists
                                                                                                                 and family members which resulted in the
A normal cell activates or ‘expresses’ just
                                                              Some medicines which are known to                  incorporation of NISAD in 1996. In 2000 he
the genes it needs to do its particular job,
                                                         improve diseases of specific organs can do              stepped down as Chairman to continue as
and actively suppresses all the rest.
                                                         so by causing changes in the levels of                  a NISAD Director while working as
    A healthy body and brain depend on
                                                                    expression of genes affecting                Professor of Hospital and Community
the continuous interplay of
                                                                    those organs. These genes can be             Psychiatry at Royal Brisbane Hospital.
thousands of proteins, acting                                                                                                                                    Prof. Stan Catts and the
                                                                    identified by taking a tissue                     Since then, says Prof. Catts, Australia    Myer Foundation funded
                                                                    sample of the organ and                      has developed world class research centres      Report which forms the
                                                                                                                                                                 blueprint for nationally
                                                                    comparing its genetic profile                in the neurosciences and genetics, often        integrated research.
                                                                    with profiles from normal                    co-located with mental health clinical
                                                                    healthy organs. When the organ               services. But despite these favourable          create a critical mass of technical and
                                                                    is the brain, and the functional             conditions for a major national research        clinical infrastructure; promote standardis-
                                                                    deficits are mental illnesses,               effort into the causes of psychosis, there is   ation of measurement across research
                                                                    however, such ‘live’ tissue                  currently little coordination or strategic      centres; support multi-centre studies of
                                                                    samples cannot be obtained –                 direction of the skills and resources now       large representative clinical cohorts and
                                                                    making the task of identifying the           available.                                      their long term follow-up; enable
                                                                    affected genes doubly complex.                    In a 50-page Report submitted to the       integration      of   research     databases
                                                                                                                 Myer Foundation last year, Prof. Catts          nationally, and establish multi-disciplinary
                                                         Enter the Mouse
                                                                                                                 outlined the urgent need for large scale        meeting processes for scientific exchange.”
                                                             Fortunately, the genetic profiles of                studies:                                             Proposals and budgets for seven major
                                                         mice are almost the same as human                            “Currently, more than 70 percent of the    research initiatives, involving up to 3,000
                                                         profiles. That’s why ‘animal studies’ are an            disability associated with psychosis is         subjects, were endorsed by 83 eminent
                                                         expanding feature of worldwide genetic                  completely untreatable. Virtually all our       scientists from every State in Australia.
                                                         research into mental illness.                           treatments are non-specific – only research          The Myer Foundation has awarded a
                                                             At the NISAD Centre for Molecular                   can offer the prospect of targeted treatments   grant of $80,000 to Prof. Catts for the
                                                         Brain Research within the Garvan Institute,             that act on specific brain systems.”            purpose of gaining support for the APRN
                                                         Dr Albert Chetcuti has been investigating                    The Report called for the establish-       concept from Federal and State govern-
                                                         the genetic effects of the widely prescribed            ment of an Australian Psychosis Research        ments, the corporate sector, and consumer
                                                         bipolar disorder mood-stabilising drug                  Network (APRN) which would provide              advocacy groups – and of developing the
                                                         valproate by comparing the genetic                      direction and coordination:                     funding sources and structures necessary
                                                         profiles of treated and untreated mice.*                     “This nationally coordinated effort will   for its full implementation.
                                                             Dr Chetcuti has identified 11 genes in
                                                         the treated mice which exhibit altered
                                                         levels of expression, and many of these
                                                         genes are known to be involved in the
                                                         development and functioning of the brain.
                                                             This research uses the beneficial
                                                         effects of medication as clues to help
Very similar to mouse DNA, the human DNA molecule        identify the genetic abnormalities which
is a long strand made up of the four chemical bases      produce the illness.
adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G)
arranged in varied sequence. Certain thousands-long
sequences of A,T,C,G in the strand are active genes -
                                                             Dr Chetcuti is now mobilising the
                                                         experience gained from his study of
                                                                                                                 St. George Foundation
coded instructions that allow cells to make proteins,
which are the building blocks of the body.
                                                         valproate in a new ‘animal’ study                       Funds a Schizophrenia
                                                         targeting anti-psychosis medication.
together in just the right amounts and in                    When combined with the results of
                                                                                                                 Research First
just the right places - and each properly
functioning protein is the product of an
intact gene.
                                                         other such studies, Dr Chetcuti’s work aims
                                                         to provide new insight into the genetic                 I  n 2002, Dr Katerina Zavitsanou and
                                                                                                                    colleagues in NISAD’s University of
                                                                                                                 Wollongong centre published their
                                                         causes of psychotic disorders.
     But genes can be altered in many ways.                                                                      findings of increased levels of glutamate
Genetic abnormalities can be either                      * Chetcuti A, Adams LJ, Mitchell PB, Schofield PR.      neurotransmitters in the anterior cingulate
                                                         Altered gene expression in mice treated with the mood
inherited from a parent or acquired from                 stabiliser sodium valproate. International Journal of
                                                                                                                 cortex (ACC) of schizophrenia-affected
environmental sources. Individuals with                  Neuropsychopharmacology (in press)                      brains. As glutamate is the primary
                                                                                                                 trigger of excitatory brain activity, and the   NISAD’s Beta-Imager at the University of Wollongong
                                                                                                                                                                 reveals a 40% increase of glutamate NMDA neurore-
                                                                                                                 ACC plays a fundamental role in cognition       ceptors in the PCC of schizophrenia brain tissue (left)

Prof. Loris Chahl                                                                                                and attention, these findings were a highly
                                                                                                                 significant addition to the growing body of
                                                                                                                                                                 as compared with tissue from healthy donors (right).

                                                                                                                                                                 percent increase in NMDA neuroreceptors
steps down                                                                                                       evidence that such abnormal excitatory
                                                                                                                 activity in the ACC played a key role in
                                                                                                                                                                 in the schizophrenia brain tissue.
                                                                                                                                                                      This is the first time a selective
A founding member of NISAD’s                                                                                     schizophrenia.                                  increase in NMDA receptors has been
scientific team retires.                                                                                              Dysfunction in the ACC has been            demonstrated in the posterior cingulate
                                                                                                                 directly linked to disorders such as            cortex in schizophrenia.
P   rof. Loris Chahl’s distinguished career
    in neuroscience research at the
University of Newcastle did not include
                                                                                                                 obsessive-compulsive and bipolar, as
                                                                                                                 well as to depression, autism and
                                                                                                                                                                      Together with the earlier ACC study,
                                                                                                                                                                 this evidence of increased glutamate
                                                                                                                 schizophrenia. All evidence indicates this
schizophrenia studies until NISAD’s initial                                                                                                                      densities in two regions of the cingulate
                                                                                                                 brain area as a key ‘accident black spot’ in
advocacy drew her attention to the urgent                                                                                                                        cortex strongly indicates a source of
                                                                                                                 the brain’s busy pathways.
need. Since then Loris has become one of                                                                                                                         dysfunction that could alter activity in
                                                                                                                      Led by NISAD scholar Kelly Newell, a
the Institute’s strongest supporters.                    At Newcastle, L-R: NISAD Scientific Director Prof.      further study* at Wollongong has explored       related brain circuits and result in
     Initiated in 1998, NISAD’s Newcastle                Vaughan Carr, Prof. Loris Chahl, and NISAD Research                                                     abnormal information processing.
                                                         Manager Daren Draganic.                                 whether the abnormal glutamate activity
centre was the first to specialise in                                                                            found in the ACC is also present in the              The St. George Foundation has added a
neurobiological research, and has since                       Following her retirement Loris will                                                                further $10,000 to the $75,000 provided for
                                                                                                                 posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). The PCC
grown to include 10 researchers and to                   continue her schizophrenia studies as                                                                   the St.George Foundation Schizophrenia
                                                                                                                 tissue from schizophrenia and control
become one of NISAD’s most productive                    Conjoint Professor in the School of                     subjects was examined for the binding of        Research Scholarship - which has funded
groups. Throughout this period, Loris was                Biomedical Sciences - an honorary                       three kinds of glutamate receptors; NMDA,       Kelly Newell’s research.
always on hand to support NISAD’s cause,                 position.    As a hobby? Helping her                    AMPA and kainate.                               *Newell K, Zavitsanou K, Huang XF. Differential
                                                         daughter run a furniture hire business                                                                  alterations of ionotropic glutamatergic receptors in the
supervising a number of NISAD postdoc-                                                                                The results showed no difference in        posterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia.
toral scientists and PhD students.                       called 'Keeping up Appearances'!                        AMPA or kainate, but a highly significant 40    Neuroreport (in press 2005)

                                                                                                                                                                                            Page 3. HeadLines. July 2005.
..............Profile of a NISAD Scientist..............                                               Fatty Acids and Brain Signals
                                      Dr. Irina Dedova                                                 Two Wollongong University                       The study found that high levels of
                                                                                                                                                       arachidonic acid and other fatty acids that
                                      Tissue Resource Centre (TRC) Coordinator                         studies investigate the                         enhance anandamide function were
                                                                                                       abnormally low levels of fatty
                                      A
                                      s a part of the NSW TRC team, I deal with the brain
                                      tissue used in research. I oversee its collection at the
                                 time of death, then its careful dissection and storage, and
                                                                                                       acids in schizophrenia brain
                                                                                                                                                       associated with lower levels of nervous
                                                                                                                                                       tension-stress, but only in the former
                                                                                                                                                       cannabis users.
                                 its distribution to other researchers, both nationally and
                                                                                                       and red cell membranes                              At the same time, high levels of linoleic
                                 internationally.
                                         I am also directly involved in research, the main
                                 focus of which is on the effects of schizophrenia and
                                                                                                       E   ssential fatty acids play an important
                                                                                                           role in neural membrane structure
                                                                                                       and function, influencing the activity of
                                                                                                                                                       acid, a fatty acid that is abundant in diet,
                                                                                                                                                       were strongly associated with higher levels
                                                                                                                                                       of nervous tension-stress - again, only in
                                 antipsychotic medications on human brain ‘proteome’ -                 a range of neural chemical signalling           former cannabis users.
                                 which is the term used for all of the proteins in the brain.          systems in the brain.                               These results suggest that fatty acids
                                 All the schizophrenia brain tissues available for research                These polyunsaturated fatty acids are       may aid cannabis-using individuals with
 comes from patients who have used antipsychotic medication, so it is important (and                   divided up into the two families of omega-      schizophrenia to cope with stress. While
 very difficult) to distinguish changes in the brain proteome caused by medications                    6 (found in cereals, eggs, poultry, most        promising from the point of view of
 from those caused by the illness itself.                                                              vegetable oils, whole-grain breads, baked       developing pharmacological and/or
                                                                                                       goods, and margarine) and omega-3               dietary interventions which may help
 What does NISAD mean to you? Great people, great cause, excellent team work and
                                                                                                       (found in oily cold-water fish and fresh        protect stabilised patients from relapse,
 exciting research!                                                                                    seaweed). Abnormally low levels of both         further research with larger numbers is
 What got you interested in researching schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is not only                       types are associated with schizophrenia.        needed.
 affecting the lives of patients but also their families and the general community. An
 opportunity to help someone and change someone's life for the better is the most
                                                                                                       Fatty acids, stress and cannabis                How fats affect rats
 exciting thing about researching schizophrenia.
 What is the most difficult thing about research? For me, the most difficult thing                     A    preliminary study led by Sharon
                                                                                                            Monterrubio at Wollongong has
                                                                                                       investigated the relationship between fatty
                                                                                                                                                      I   n another Wollongong study**, Teresa du
                                                                                                                                                          Bois and colleagues have been looking at
                                                                                                                                                       the influence of different fat diets in rats:
 about research is critical thinking. You have to question what you read and not take
                                                                                                       acids, cannabis use and stress in               focusing on how different levels of fat
 anything for granted. You have to question yourself and try not to be overexcited
                                                                                                       schizophrenia. This line of research was        consumption affect muscarinic acetyl-
 about your results!
                                                                                                       inspired by evidence that cerebrospinal         choline receptor binding levels, which are
 If you were not a scientist, what would you be doing? I have always been involved in                  fluid levels of anandamide (a neurotrans-       involved in normal cognition, mood and
 research. I believe that no matter what I did, I still would end up being a scientist!                mitter formed from an omega-6 fatty acid)       motor functioning.
 What do you do when not researching? My Dachshund ‘Doonya’ (she is the best!),                        were abnormally high in patients with                Rats were fed on either a saturated
 family, friends, and sports.                                                                          schizophrenia. Anandamide is known to           fat, omega-6 polyunsaturated fat, omega-3
                                                                                                       affect the stress-regulating cannabinoid        polyunsaturated fat or low fat diet.
                                                                                                       system, and higher levels are associated        Examination of the post-mortem brains
  Neuroscience Institute of Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders                                         with reduced symptoms.
                                                                                                            In addition, cannabinoid (CB1)
                                                                                                                                                       showed that, compared to the low fat
                                                                                                                                                       intake group, only the group fed omega-6
             Patron: Her Excellency, Professor Marie Bashir AC, Governor of NSW
                                                                                                       receptor levels have been found to be           polyunsaturated fats showed a reduction
     S P O N S O R S A N D M A J O R S U P P O RT E R S 2 0 0 4 - 2 0 0 5 F Y                          elevated in post-mortem brains from             in    the    density     of   acetylcholine
     3-YEAR GOLD SPONSORSHIP                             SPECIAL CONTRIBUTIONS                         patients. In this context, the possible         muscarinic receptors.
     ($25,000 per year for 3 years)                                                                    relationship between fatty acid levels,              These results suggest that a diet high in
                                                         Individuals
     •   Mrs Margarete Ainsworth                                                                       anandamide levels, alterations in stress        omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids may
                                                         • Mrs Kate Armati
     •   Janssen-Cilag                                                                                                                                 selectively alter neurotransmission activity
                                                         • Justice Graham Barr                         mechanisms and cannabis use by
     •   Macquarie Bank Foundation
                                                         • Mr Robert Benkhauser                        individuals with schizophrenia was              in rat brains. Similar effects in humans
     •   St. George Foundation
                                                         • Mr & Mrs Tony & Alison Dickin
     •   Tony Bleasdale & Associates                                                                   investigated.                                   have yet to be investigated.
                                                         • Mr Doug Hawkins
     •   Westfield Design and Construction               • Mr Thomas Henley                                  Fatty acid levels were measured in red
                                                         • Mr David Hook                               blood cell membranes of 12 clozapine-           *Monterrubio S, Solowij N, Meyer B, Turner N. Fatty
     3-YEAR SILVER SPONSORSHIP                                                                                                                         acid relationships in former cannabis users with
     ($10,000 per year for 3 years)                      • Mr Abraham James                            medicated patients. Six had never used          schizophrenia. Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology
     • Australand Holdings Ltd                           • Mr Thomas Jucovic QC                                                                        and Biological Psychiatry (in press)
                                                         • Mr N Lees
                                                                                                       cannabis, and six had stopped using
     • Baulderstone Hornibrook
     • Ron & Peggy Bell Foundation                       • Mr N Minogue                                cannabis more than six months prior to the      **du Bois T, Bell W, Deng C, Huang XF. A high n-6
                                                                                                                                                       polyunsaturated fatty acid diet reduces muscarinic
                                                         • Mr Clem Morfuni                             study. Stress levels were also measured         M2/M4 receptor binding in the rat brain. The Journal of
     3-YEAR BRONZE SPONSORSHIP                           • Mrs Irene Moss
     ($5,000 per year for 3 years)
                                                                                                       using standardised questionnaires.              Chemical Neuroanatomy 2005; 29: 282-288.
                                                         • Mrs Frances Powell
     •   AbiGroup Contractors                            • Mr & Mrs Bryan & Fiona Shedden
     •   Chubb Fire Safety
     •   Leighton Holdings                               Clubs
     •   Lundbeck Australia                              • ARAFMI Cowra Branch                                                   Irene Kwong Moss AO
     •   Paynter Dixon Constructions                     • East Maitland Beresfield Lioness Club
                                                         • Leagues Clubs Association of NSW                                      Joined the NISAD Board in April, bringing a wealth of
     WORKPLACE GIVING PROGRAMS                           • Roseville Returned Servicemen's Memorial                              experience from her distinguished career, which has
     • ABN AMRO                                            Club                                                                  encompassed appointments as Commissioner, Independent
     • Deutsche Bank                                     • Rotary Clubs of Botany Bay and Picton
     • Insurance Australia Group (IAG)
                                                                                                                                 Commission Against Corruption (1999-2004), Ombudsman
     • Wollongong City Council                           Corporations                                                            NSW (1995-1999), Magistrate (1994-1995) and Federal Race
                                                         • Australian Charities Fund                                             Discrimination Commissioner, Human Rights and Equal
     SCIENTIFIC GRANTS                                   • AW Edwards Builders & Contractors
     • Australian Rotary Health Research Fund            • Awesome Screen Printing                                               Opportunity Commission (1986-1995). Irene is currently a
                                                                                                       Irene Kwong Moss AO
     • National Alliance for Research on                 • Bristol-Myers Squibb                                                  Consultant to the Minister for Justice of NSW.
       Schizophrenia and Depression (USA)                • Hungerford Hill
     • J S Love Trust                                    • Qantas                                                                Dr. Marion Kellenbach
     • Alma Hazel Eddy Trust                             • Ramrod Constructions
     • Baxter Charitable Foundation                      • Tyrrell's Wines                                                       Appointed in March at NISAD’s Central Office, working with
     • Sylvia & Charles Viertel Foundation                                                                                       Research Manager Daren Draganic on coordinating an
                                                         Baulderstone Fundraising Golf Day
     MAJOR SUPPORTERS                                    • Australand • Axis Plumbing • Baratech                                 ever-expanding program of research projects, grant applications
     • AMP                                               • Baylin Industries • City East Carpentry                               and staff management. Marion has a substantial research and
     • ASX-Reuters Charity Foundation                    • Coates Hire • Commercial & Residential                                publication background in cognitive neuroscience, both in
     • Bovis Lend Lease at Macarthur Square              Waterproofing • De Martin & Gasparini
                                                         • Deno's Cranes • Groedel Kitchens                                      Holland and the UK.
     • Construction Forestry Mining & Energy                                                           Marion Kellenbach
       Union (CFMEU)                                     • Heyday • Impact Scaffolding • Lidco
     • KMPG Audit & Risk Advisory Services               • Linddales • Melrose Cranes and Rigging
     • Lifework Foundation                               • Metrotex Painters & Decorators • NSW
                                                                                                             EFY APPEAL JUST SHORT OF FUNDING A
     • QBE Insurance
     • Telstra Friends
     IN MEMORIAM
     • Mrs Florence Maggs
                                                         Tiling Services • Perform Framework
                                                         • Petar Zlatar Partitions • Peter Favetti &
                                                         Sons • Premier Plumbing Services • Ramrod
                                                         Construction Services • Ward Civil &
                                                         Engineering • Wastecorp • Zenith Works
                                                                                                                YOUNG SCIENTIST SCHOLARSHIP

                                                                                                               NK YOU!
                                                                                                           Mailed to HeadLines readers in June, NISAD’s appeal needs to raise $30,000 for the




                                                                                                             HA
     • The Bandy Family                                                                                      first year of a 3-year PhD Scholarship which would enable a young scientist to
                                                         NISAD Society Members                            specialise in schizophrenia research. The generous response has been the best ever
     • The Jensen Family
     • The Pailthorpe Family
     • The Snow Family
                                                         • To the 71 people who have joined
                                                           The NISAD Society - Thank you!

                                NISAD IS SUPPORTED BY NSW HEALTH                                            T recorded, but is still short of the target. So if you have forgotten to send your
                                                                                                            donation, please remember! And join all the other contributors who will be kept
                                                                                                                      informed of the young scientist’s progress over the three years.



To include yourself on the mailing list to receive free HeadLines, call (02) 9295 8407.
NISAD, 384 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010. Fax: (02) 9295 8415 Web: www.nisad,org.au
HeadLines is written, designed and produced by NISAD Communications Director Alan Tunbridge.
The opinions expressed in HeadLines do not necessarily represent the views of all NISAD’s participating scientists.

								
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