The Indianapolis drug maker recently tested the new drug on more than 100 schizophrenic patients for four weeks and found it was effective in treating hallucinations, delusions, social withdrawal and apathy, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature Medicine.
Patients who took the drug, LY2140023, showed no weight increase, nor did they exhibit adverse effects commonly associated with many schizophrenia medications, such as involuntary movements or muscle stiffness, the paper said.
Lilly said the new drug works in a completely different way than standard treatments. Most currently approved antipsychotic medications work by affecting the neurotransmitters dopamine or serotonin. The new drug is thought to work by affecting another neurotransmitter, glutamate.
Lilly said the new drug is still years away from clinical use for schizophrenia, a disease that affects about 3 million Americans.
The first new class of drugs in more than a decade for treating schizophrenia worked at least as well in a clinical trial as standard medications, a study released Sunday showed.
Unlike current anti-psychotic drugs, which block the uptake of a naturally occurring chemical called dopamine, the new drug acts on a different neurotransmitter, glutamate.
The new treatment also reduced certain undesirable side-effects, according to the study, published in the British journal Nature Science.
Imbalances in the brain of these chemicals are largely responsible for schizophrenia's disabling symptoms, which range from hallucinations and delusions to a severely impaired ability to express emotion. Environmental factors are thought to play a role too.
Sufferers often hear voices and may believe that other people are reading their minds or controlling their thoughts. These frightening experiences can cause withdrawal and extreme agitation.