So far the drug is called simply RG2417. It's made by the Repligen Corp. and it's an oral formula of uridine, a substance that stimulates brain phosphatide synthesis. It may be the next drug in the arsenal against bipolar disorder.

A total of 84 individuals with bipolar disorder were given either RG2417 or a placebo. They took these substances twice a day for six weeks. During this six week period the researchers evaluated the participants with bipolar disorder on a weekly basis. Throughout the length of the study, the individuals with bipolar disorder who were administered RB2417 showed statistically significant improvement in the severity of their symptoms of bipolar disorder

'We are pleased with the results of this study,' explained Walter C. Herlihy, president and chief executive officer of the Repligen Corp., 'which provides substantial evidence of [the] efficacy of RG2417 in improving the symptoms of bipolar disorder.'

Bipolar disorder, previously referred to manic depression, is an illness whose hallmark is the wide swings from depression to mania - an inappropriate euphoric high that very often is accompanied by racing thoughts, inappropriate behavior (especially extravagant spending and sexual promiscuity) as well as the decreased need for sleep and possibility irrational irritability.

Normally, this illness is diagnosed in late adolescence and early adulthood. However, more individuals are being given the diagnosis as children - some as young as four years old.

Bipolar disorder, as a chronic illness, is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Bipolar disorder, in fact, ranks only behind unipolar depression and alcohol abuse worldwide among the psychiatric illnesses for related disabilities as well as overall economic burdens of illness.

The lifetime financial burden of bipolar disorder in the United States alone, according to the Repligen Corp. stands at $625,00 per patient. Of course, this depends on the resistance to treatment and persistence of the individual's symptoms.

Currently, lithium and anticonvulsants such as valproic acid have brought a substantial improvement to the long-term prognosis of bipolar disorder, many are still unable to tolerate the side effects of some the drugs.