Tag: bipolar disorder

Bioethics News

Underlying Molecular Mechanism of Bipolar Disorder Revealed

These results are the first to explain the molecular basis of the disease, and may support the development of a diagnostic test for the disorder as well as predict the likelihood of patient response to lithium treatment.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Serotonin produced from neurons obtained with iPS and embryonic stem cells

Serotonin is implicated in functions as important as humour, sadness, feelings of aggression, anxiety and sleep disturbances, among others. A deficiency in serotonin release has been related with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, chronic pain and eating disorders. All of this supports how important it is for the central nervous system to function well. Now, to facilitate “in-vitro” studies of the neurons that produce this substance, a technique has been developed that enables them to be obtained from human pluripotent cells, both embryonic and human iPS cells (Nature Biotechnology 34; 89-94, 2016). The use of human embryonic stem cells has objective ethical difficulties, but not so human iPS cells, so their use opens up a scientific and ethical avenue for the production this substance from neurons, and to take another step forward in the treatment of conditions linked to serotonin imbalance.

La entrada Serotonin produced from neurons obtained with iPS and embryonic stem cells aparece primero en Bioethics Observatory.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

A New Hope for Mental Illness

Both Carrie Fisher and George Michael – just like far too many celebrities and average folk — struggled with addiction. Moreover, it wasn’t just alcoholism that Carrie Fisher struggled with. She was also an outspoken advocate for other mental illnesses, courageously sharing her own experience with bipolar disorder. Carrie herself believed that her years-long battle with addiction was a result of her undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Along with other well-deserved epithets, 2016 will be remembered as the year that the mental health community lost a remarkable advocate. Despite Ms. Fisher’s untimely passing, however, there is still “a new hope”.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Predicting Psychosis: Exploring Pre-Clinical Signs for Mental Illness

By Sunidhi Ramesh

This post is based on the January edition of the “Neuroethics and Neuroscience in the News” series in which Dr. Elaine Walker from Emory University discussed the ethics of assessing risk and treating brain diseases before they can be diagnosed.
This self-portrait is often used to depict the distorted
reality that many schizophrenia patients face.
(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

“This calculator,” a 2016 headline states, “can predict your risk of developing psychotic disorders.”

Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with psychotic features, are characterized by noticeable deficits in “normal” behavior accompanied by hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, an early onset (the average age of onset is in the late teens or early twenties), and a derailed life course.
Because of its early age at onset, the DALY (disability adjusted life years) value for psychosis is significantly greater than that of other illnesses (1). It’s no surprise, then, that researchers are asking questions. Are there measures that can be taken to keep at-risk populations from enduring a life-hindering disability?
Fifteen years ago, the answer would be no. Today, it (just might be) yes. 

How? Researchers have recently identified patterns in pre-clinical psychotic symptoms— patterns that many psychotic patients exhibit long before they are formally diagnosed with a disorder.
In schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders that “interfere with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others,” this pre-clinical period is called the prodromal period. During this time, patients often experience gradual disruptions in behavioral functioning (like being suspended from school or losing friends) that are accompanied by subclinical or reduced psychotic symptoms (like hallucinations and delusions).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Brain Scans May Shed Light on Bipolar Disorder-Suicide Risk

January 31, 2017

(UPI) – Among teens and young adults with bipolar disorder, researchers have linked brain differences to an increased suicide risk. About half of people with bipolar disorder — marked by extreme mood swings — attempt suicide and as many as one in five dies by suicide, the study authors said.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

A New Hope for Mental Illness January 3, 2017 Both Carrie Fisher and George Michael – just l…

January 03, 2017

by Sean Philpott-Jones, Chair, Bioethics Program of Clarkson University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

A New Hope for Mental Illness

Every year, my husband and I throw a big New Year’s Eve party. Most of the time, we celebrate the coming of a new year with food, champagne and the company of good friends. This weekend’s party will be particularly poignant for me. I will be toasting not to the coming of 2017 but, rather, to the end of 2016.

This year has been particularly tumultuous for me, characterized by significant professional challenges and two recent hospitalizations. This year was also capped off by the passing of my mother, who recently succumbed to the very health problem that I have been struggling with for the past three months. The only positive thing to say about 2016 is that I have a new found appreciation for all that I have, and a plan to achieve better work-life balance in the coming year.

Of course, I am not the only person who has faced personal and professional challenges this year. In fact, my own struggles cannot compare to those whose lives have been irreparably changed by the war in Syria, the gun violence in Chicago, or the terror attacks in Belgium, Florida, France, Germany and elsewhere.

We’ve also lost what seems to be an extremely long list of political figures, sports legends, and celebrated entertainers in 2016, including Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, boxing champion and political activist Muhammad Ali, and award-winning artist Prince.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Why Are Americans with Severe Mental Illness Dying 25 Years Younger than Their Peers?

December 16, 2016

(Quartz) – People with severe mental illness, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, suffer from diseases that make it difficult to find motivation. In addition, many drugs used to treat psychosis cause weight gain and make it impossible to feel full after eating. These challenges are compounded by the fact that many people with severe mental illness live in poverty, which makes access to healthy food and a safe space to exercise limited. “All these things conspire to reduce the life expectancy,” Bartels said.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Configurations of diagnostic processes, practices, and evidence: a conference report by Natassia Brenman

Every two years the Medical Anthropology at Home network organises a conference to present and discuss recent work. The ninth conference, held in June 2016 in Northern Norway, was organized by Mette Bech Risør from The Arctic University of Norway and Nina Nissen from the University of Southern Denmark. To address the theme of Configurations of diagnostic processes, practices and evidence, the conference placed diagnosis and diagnostic processes centre-stage — as classification and practices in-the-making, exploring a wide variety of actors, and organizational and discursive levels.

Thirty-two people presented papers in eight sessions broken up by two stirring keynote lectures, one delivered by Simon Cohn — from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK — and the other by Annemarie Jutel — from the Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. The papers, grounded in rich ethnographic material, offered critical reflections on new developments and transformations of socio-medical realities in Europe, the United States, Canada and Brazil. As medical anthropologists critically engaging with diagnostic practices in our respective projects, we (Natassia Brenman and Anna Witeska-Młynarczyk) each presented papers and participated in the lively discussions that took place over the four days. In the following reflections, we seek to capture the key themes that emerged from the sessions, and to consider how the overarching aim of advancing anthropological debates on diagnosis was pursued throughout the conference.

Diagnosis as containment: an opening thought

Simon Cohn’s opening keynote reflected on how we, as medical anthropologists, might maintain a focus on local practices in a world where it is increasingly hard to represent single bounded locations.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

A Gene That Could Help Explain Why Lithium Stabilizes Mood

October 20, 2016

(The Atlantic) – While the description of bipolar disorder in the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—the American Psychiatric Association’s sometimes maligned guide to psychiatric diagnosis—has changed over the years, lithium has remained a standby treatment. “It’s still arguably one of the best medications,” even if it’s not completely understood, says Ben Cheyette, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Now, a new study published on Tuesday by Cheyette’s group in Molecular Psychiatry sheds some light on lithium’s effects on the brain.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

The Families That Launch Their Own Autism Studies

September 30, 2016

(The Atlantic) –  The growing interest in personalized medicine and the quantified self, in which people use technology to track their own physiological data or symptoms, is beginning to shift researchers’ views toward N-of-1 trials. The search for effective treatments for a variety of chronic conditions has led to a boomlet of N-of-1. The conditions run the gamut, ranging from speech disorders to stroke, bipolar disorder, cancer, and fibromyalgia.  Although N-of-1 trials are on the rise in every area of medicine, they have had a particularly large impact on autism research. Based on work by Rodakis and other parents, some autism researchers are beginning to explore potential causes and novel treatments they might otherwise have missed.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.