Drug Initiatives to Improve Cognitive Function
J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67(suppl 9):31-35
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Unlike for other chronic illnesses, the development of new medications for the treatment of schizophrenia
has been relatively dormant since the 1950s. Recently, the Measurement and Treatment Research
to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) program was established by the National
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in order to facilitate the development of treatments for cognitive
impairment and functional outcome in schizophrenia. Although effective medications for managing
the positive symptoms of schizophrenia have permitted many patients to live in the community, these
medications often fail to improve social and vocational function. As a result, some experts believe that
research into new treatments should focus instead on the functional outcomes of patients by improving
cognitive abilities and social competence. The MATRICS program brought together scientists
from academia, government, and industry to discuss ways of promoting the development of new treatments
for schizophrenia and gain consensus on treatment targets. The initiatives that have come out of
the MATRICS program include focusing on adjunct medications, addressing regulatory issues with
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, determining the best way to measure functional outcomes,
classifying symptoms, developing a battery of cognitive tests for assessing outcomes in clinical trials,
and ranking promising targets for new treatment development.