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Drug Initiatives to Improve Cognitive Function

Stephen R. Marder, MD

Published: July 14, 2006

Article Abstract

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.

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Volume: 67

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