Initiatives to Promote the Discovery of Drugs to Improve Cognitive Function in Severe Mental Illness

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Current pharmacotherapy for treating schizophrenia is limited because treatments focus on positive symptom control rather than improving social and vocational function and few new treatments have been developed in the past 50 years. To better facilitate the development of treatments for the cognitive impairments in schizophrenia and for improving functional outcome in schizophrenia, the Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) program was established. The MATRICS program has developed a way of measuring outcome in trials of cognition-enhancing drugs, provided guidelines for doing studies of cognition-enhancing drugs, and looked at the most promising molecular targets for improving cognition using different kinds of pharmacologic agents. By focusing on cognitive impairments and negative symptoms, the functional outcomes of patients with schizophrenia may be improved.

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J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67(7):e03