Scientists funded by the UK's largest biomedical research charity, The Wellcome Trust, have developed a drink that enhances the effectiveness of medication given to treat psychiatric illnesses such as mania and schizophrenia.
A team of researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University have found that they can achieve this, and probably reduce problematic side effects from traditional treatments, by supplementing medication with a specially designed drink. The drink, called Tyrodep, is high in amino acids and can help to control the increased level of chemicals in the brain, which underlie the illnesses.
Over one million people in the UK have suffered from mania or schizophrenia and many control their symptoms with antipsychotic drugs. However, the side effects to these treatments can include Parkinson like symptoms such as stiffness and shakiness, a permanent movement of the mouth and tongue, weight gain and sexual problems.
Professor Guy Goodwin, who led the team of researchers at Oxford University, said:
"Conventional antipsychotics can be used effectively in managing mental illnesses like schizophrenia and mania however, the side effects can understandably cause some patients to become cautious in taking them.
"The drink we've developed, when taken alongside medication, has proven to be a real step forward. It may be both more acceptable to patients and help to reduce the unwanted side effects people get from their treatment. Hopefully it will allow them to get on with their lives."
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity SANE, said:
"The frustration that so many individuals with schizophrenia or manic depression, and their families, experience is that often treatment is limited to medications which mostly have debilitating side effects. If this product proves as successful as its early results suggest, it could be an important breakthrough in encouraging people to work with their medication and lead more positive lives."
Professor Goodwin is now working with the support of a specialist American Charity, The Stanley Medical Research Institute, to try and develop the product into a therapy that can be made widely available.