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March 5, 2001

Emory selected for NIMH
schizophrenia drug trial

By Sarah Goodwin

Researchers in psychiatry and behavioral science have been selected to participate in the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) project.

This research study will evaluate the clinical effectiveness of five antipsychotic drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia, along with psychotic and disruptive behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Emory is the only site in Georgia selected to participate in this $42.1 million, multicenter study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and led by a team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Emory is privileged to be a part of this research, which will redefine the role of antipsychotics as treatments for certain mental illnesses,” said Charles Nemeroff, co-principal investigator and Harris Professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “By being selected to participate in this trial, [NIMH] recognizes Emory as a leading department of psychiatry in this field of study.”

The CATIE program is part of an initiative by NIMH to address important questions in the delivery of public mental health care and the clinical management of patients.

The project will focus on the conditions for which atypical antipsychotic drugs are used as treatment, with an initial focus on schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. The goal is to establish an evidence-based protocol that will make a fundamental difference in the way mental health professionals treat patients with serious mental illnesses.

“This is the largest single federal grant ever awarded by [NIMH],” said Joseph Bona, co-principal investigator and associate professor and vice-chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “This trial will likely redefine the way clinicians approach the management of patients with schizophrenia.”

The study will run through September 2004 and will recruit roughly 1,800 patients nationally, 20 of which will be treated at Emory.

Conventional antipsychotic drugs, such as chlorpromazine and haloperidol, have proven track records in the treatment of schizophrenia, however there are substantial limitations with their use. This protocol will study the efficacy, limitations and clinical appropriateness of conventional versus newer, atypical medications in the management of patients with schizophrenia.

Although antipsychotic drugs were first developed for schizophrenia, they are now broadly used for other disorders, including behavioral signs and symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Despite their widespread use, however, their overall effectiveness in these illnesses remains unclear.

For more information on the study, call 678-686-5965.


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