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Annual Report to the Community 2010-2011 Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

 

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Dr. Sean Kidd is conducting a pilot study of a “real world” application of Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT). CAT addresses the memory, attention or problem-solving deficits that may challenge a person with schizophrenia in carrying out activities of daily living, by providing homebased solutions. The study is being conducted with the University of Texas.

In 2010, CAMH was the only field trial site in Canada selected to help assess the clinical use of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM is used in many parts of the world to help diagnose mental illness. The trials will be led by Drs. Bruce G. Pollock, Michael Bagby and Kwame McKenzie in schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, attenuated psychotic symptoms syndrome and personality disorders.

Using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, Dr. Romina Mizrahi has demonstrated that people who have shown mild symptoms of schizophrenia—who are at high risk of developing the illness—experience a large release of the chemical dopamine when stressed. Dr. Mizrahi’s research points to a way to diagnose and prevent the development of schizophrenia in people at risk, by modulating their dopamine-stress response.

Dr. Romina Mizrahi
Dr. Romina Mizrahi with a PET machine dedicated to mental health and addictions at CAMH.

Genetics, epigenetics and mental health

In the expanding field of pharmacogenetics, scientists are testing genes that predict which drugs will produce the best response with the least side-effects. Other CAMH research in genetics includes identifying genes that cause mental illness or neurological disorders, and epigenetics, or how the environment works at the DNA level to produce disease. Our scientists are also using brain imaging to relate genetic information to brain structure and function.

Genetics, epigenetics and mental healthThe liver enzyme gene research of Drs. James Kennedy and Daniel Mueller enables them to know how rapidly patients will break down antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs. This can predict how someone will respond and the risk of side-effects. Dr. Kennedy will be studying the effectiveness of having family doctors—who prescribe about 80 per cent of these drugs—use tests to provide the best treatment for their patients.

Dr. John Vincent has shown why autism spectrum disorder may affect four times as many males as females. In a study with the Hospital for Sick Children, the researchers found mutations on a gene on the single X chromosome that males carry. This mutation may disrupt crucial processes during brain development, contributing to the occurrence of autism.

Last year, CAMH discoveries yielded nine patents

Dr. Arturas Petronis is continuing his groundbreaking research on epigenetics—an area of molecular biology that explains how environmental factors, such as stress or nutrition, influence what genes do. His team is in the midst of a major project to scan the entire human genome for epigenetic differences specific to bipolar disorder. The study is supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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