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Bipolar News

June 18, 2005

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Research zeros in on bipolar disorder genes, link with thyroid ...
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Despite an intensive effort, researchers have yet to identify the genes that cause bipolar disorder, yet the practical benefits of such a discovery could reap ...

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National Institutes of Health Awards $11.9 M to The Burnham Institute to Establish the San Diego Chemical Library Screening Center.

AScribe Health News Service; 6/17/2005

Byline: The Burnham Institute

SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 17 (AScribe Newswire) -- The Burnham Institute has been selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as one of nine national centers for high-throughput chemical compound screening, known collectively as "The Molecular Libraries Screening Centers Network", that will comprise the world's largest collaborative network focused on drug discovery. Dr. John C. Reed, President and CEO of The Burnham Institute, will direct "The San Diego Chemical Library Screening Center" to be established with $11.9 M awarded over three years by the NIH.

As a member of this national screening network, the Burnham will have access to a library of 2 million compounds, which will be individually tested for medicinal properties using advanced robotic screening instrumentation. The screening center at the Burnham will perform screens of the 2 million compounds against at least 20 disease-targets per year, revealing specific compounds that interact with and inhibit disease-causing proteins.

"The selection of Burnham and our partner organizations to serve as one of the nine national centers for this exciting initiative validates our decision over five years go to build an innovative drug discovery infrastructure that empowers our scientists to go beyond basic discovery research and invent the new medicines of the future", said Dr. Reed. "It is also a vote of confidence in the quality of our scientific team. Already, Burnham scientists have contributed in whole or in part to several medications now in use for preventing or treating stroke, heart attack, cancer, nerve degeneration, and Alzheimer's disease. Armed with the new capabilities provided through the NIH grant, we will be poised to accelerate our efforts 100-fold."

The Molecular Screening Centers Network is being developed as part of the NIH Roadmap Initiative for expediting medical discovery, implemented by NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "This tremendous collaborative effort will accelerate our understanding of biology and disease mechanisms, said Dr. Zerhouni. "More importantly, it will, for the first time, enable academic researchers to explore novel ideas and enable progress on a broad front against human disease".

Information generated by the screening centers will be made available to the public and private sectors through a database maintained by the National Library of Medicine at NIH.

The Burnham Institute's component of the screening network will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, which includes experts in biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, and computer sciences. Promising compounds identified by robotic screening will be optimized for potency and safety using cutting-edge methods of structure-based drug design. The screening center employs and develops advanced instrumentation and methods for high-throughput automated microscopy, allowing for cell-based screens using high content imaging, as well as performing methods development in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)-based drug design, 3D computational modeling, and combinatorial chemistry.

Design and implementation of screening assays, robotic chemical library screening, bioinformatics and data management will be undertaken at Burnham. Participants in the "San Diego Chemical Library Screening Center" from The Burnham Institute include Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D. (cell biology), Deputy Director of the Screening Center and Deputy Director of the Institute's NCI Cancer Center; Jeffrey Price, Ph.D. (engineering), Associate Professor; Mark Mercola, Ph.D. (stem cell biology), Associate Professor; Steve Vasile, Ph.D. (high-throughput screening), Professor; Maurizio Pellecchia, Ph.D. (chemistry), Associate Professor; Adam Godzik, Ph.D. (computational biology), Professor and Director, Bioinformatics Program; Andrei Osterman, Ph.D. (computational biology), Assistant Professor; and Kutbuddin Doctor, Ph.D. (computational biology). The chemistry efforts to optimize drugs is performed at Burnham and two collaborating San Diego research organizations, the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies (TPIMS), led by Richard A. Houghten, Ph.D., President/CEO, and the Human Biomolecular Research Institute (HBRI), directed by John Cashman, Ph.D., President & CEO.

"This is a merger of immense synergistic talents," said Dr. Houghten, "that will allow us to advance the discovery of new medicines at a pace heretofore unimaginable. We at TPIMS are very excited to be a part of this historic effort for San Diego and the nation."

Projects underway at Burnham, TPIMS, and HBRI include design of drugs that selectively kill cancer cells, cytoprotective drugs for reducing cell loss during stroke, neurodegeneration, heart disease, and trauma, drugs that neutralize the anthrax toxin and other bacterial toxins, radioprotective drugs, drugs that suppress inflammation and autoimmunity for diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease, drugs for behavioral diseases including attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, schizophrenia, and bipolar disease, and drugs for pain management.

The Burnham Institute, founded in 1976, is an independent not-for- profit biomedical research institution dedicated to advancing the frontiers of scientific knowledge and providing the foundation for tomorrow's medical therapies. The Institute is home to three major centers: the original Cancer Center, the Del E. Webb Neuroscience and Aging Center established in 1999, and the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center dedicated in 2004. Since 1981, the Institute's Cancer Center has earned the prestigious designation as a Non-comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. Discoveries by Burnham scientists have contributed to the development of new drugs for Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and several forms of cancer. Today the Burnham Institute employs over 700, including more than 550 scientists. The majority of the Institute's funding derives from federal sources, but private philanthropic support is essential to continuing bold and innovative research. For additional information about the Institute and ways to support the research efforts of the Institute, visit .

Contact Information:

Nancy J. Beddingfield (000)-000-0000 (direct) (000)-000-0000 (cell)

COPYRIGHT 2005 AScribe

No charges over police custody death.

The Birmingham Post (England); 6/17/2005

No charges will be brought over the death of a mentally ill black man who died in police custody, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Roger Sylvester, from Tottenham in north London, died in January 1999 after being restrained by police.

Eight police officers were suspended after an inquest ruled the 30-year-old had been 'unlawfully killed' but were re-instated when that verdict was quashed by a High Court judge in 2004. Six of the officers were directly involved in restraining Mr Sylvester, who suffered from bipolar manic depression and was taken to St Anne's psychiatric hospital in Haringey.

The police argued that he was suffering from cannabis-induced psychiatric illness and had been 'acting bizarrely' outside his home in Summerhill Road, Tottenham.

Mr Sylvester, who was 5ft 10in and weighed a little over 18 stone, became violent in hospital whilst in Room 136 awaiting medical assessment and was restrained for about 20 minutes by officers before collapsing.

He was taken to nearby Whittington Hospital where he remained in a coma until his death on January 19.

An inquest into his death, which ruled unlawful killing, took place in 2003 while the judicial review overturning that decision finished in November last year.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd

Many Patients With Schizophrenia Who Transitioned to RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R) Avoided Relapse and Experienced Symptom Improvement.

PR Newswire; 6/16/2005

TITUSVILLE, N.J., June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A study presented at the 45th Annual New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit (NCDEU) meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, reports that many patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who transitioned from other medications to RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R) (risperidone long-acting injection) avoided relapses and experienced symptom improvement. Janssen, L.P., which markets RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R), supported this study.

"Schizophrenia is debilitating and proper treatment can help patients regain control of their lives," said George M. Simpson, MD, chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. "This study showed that continuous therapy with risperidone long- acting injection helped many people with schizophrenia avoid relapse and manage their condition."

The primary endpoint of this study was to detect a statistical difference in time to relapse between the 25 and 50 mg doses of RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R). There was no statistical difference between the two doses of RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R) with respect to time to relapse. This finding suggests that it may be reasonable to initiate treatment for symptomatically stable patients with the lower dose. In this one-year study, relapse was noted in 22 percent of subjects receiving the 25 mg dose, and 15 percent receiving the 50 mg dose. Relapse was defined as the need for psychiatric hospitalization (noted in 10 percent and 6 percent in the 25 mg and 50 mg groups, respectively), substantial clinical deterioration (noted in 6 percent and 4 percent of subjects, respectively), increase in the level of psychiatric care (noted in 3 percent and 1 percent of subjects, respectively), violent behavior (noted in 1 percent and <1 percent of subjects, respectively), and qualified use of oral risperidone supplementation (noted in 3 percent and 3 percent of subjects, respectively).

The study also found that patients' psychotic symptoms decreased significantly versus baseline in both dose groups. Further, the number of patients considered "not ill," "borderline ill" or "mildly ill" improved from 43 percent at baseline to 61 percent in the 25 mg group, and from 48 percent at baseline to 63 percent in the 50 mg group.

This double-blind, randomized, controlled trial of RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R) in the treatment of chronic schizophrenia (n=323), followed patients who had been taking only oral antipsychotic medications and who were symptomatically stable for four months. Patients received a fixed dose of either 25mg or 50 mg of RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R) every two weeks. One hundred and sixty-six patients (51 percent) completed the 52-week study.

To determine how well the treatments worked, researchers measured whether patients relapsed and the length of time before they relapsed.

The most common side effects reported in the study include insomnia (28 percent), psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (20 percent), headache (19 percent) and anxiety (16 percent). Overall, weight remained essentially unchanged from baseline (196 pounds) to endpoint (198 pounds).

More than two million Americans suffer from schizophrenia, a devastating brain disorder characterized as the most chronic and disabling of the severe mental illnesses. People with schizophrenia often suffer symptoms such as hearing voices not heard by others, or having false beliefs that people are plotting against them or planning to harm them. These symptoms may leave them fearful and withdrawn.

Sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the NCDEU meeting is a scientific conference that brings together academic researchers from multiple disciplines involved in clinical trials, investigators with the pharmaceutical industry, and representatives from NIMH/National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration who are interested in psychopharmacology and the broader areas of interventions and services research.

RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R) (risperidone long-acting injection) is the first and only long-acting, atypical antipsychotic to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and now is approved in more than 57 countries worldwide. The treatment uses advanced technology to deliver and maintain therapeutic medication levels in the body through just one injection every two weeks. RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R) is manufactured by Alkermes, Inc., and marketed in the United States by Janssen, L.P. Available in 25 mg, 37.5 mg and 50 mg dose units, it is approved for the treatment of schizophrenia. For more information, visit

Important safety information: elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with atypical antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death compared to placebo. Analyses of seventeen placebo controlled trials (modal duration of 10 weeks) in these patients revealed a risk of death in the drug-treated patients of between 1.6 to 1.7 times that seen in placebo-treated patients. Over the course of a typical 10-week controlled trial, the rate of death in drug-treated patients was about 4.5 percent, compared to a rate of about 2.6 percent in the placebo group. Although the causes of death were varied, most of the deaths appeared to be either cardiovascular (e.g., heart failure, sudden death) or infectious (e.g., pneumonia) in nature. RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R) (risperidone long-acting injection) is not approved for the treatment of patients with Dementia-Related Psychosis.

In a study of people taking RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R), most common side effects were: sleepiness, restlessness, tremors and muscle stiffness, stomach upset, constipation, dry mouth, feeling tired, and weight increase.

Studies suggest an increased risk of elevated blood sugar-related side effects, which are sometimes potentially fatal, in patients treated with this class of medications, including RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R). Some people may need regular blood sugar testing.

Patients may have heard the term "tardive dyskinesia." These are potentially persistent, uncontrollable, slow or jerky facial or body movements that can be caused by all medications of this type. If patients have these symptoms, they should talk with their health care professional.

A rare but serious side effect that has been reported with this kind of medicine, including RISPERDAL(R) CONSTA(R), is known as NMS or neuroleptic malignant syndrome. NMS is characterized by muscle rigidity, fever and can be serious.

For more information, refer to the full prescribing information at pdf.

Based in Titusville, N.J., Janssen, L.P. is focused exclusively on the needs of psychiatrists. It currently markets prescription medications for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. For more information, visit

Srikant Ramaswami
Janssen, L.P.

Alyse Stolting
Feinstein Kean Healthcare

CONTACT: Srikant Ramaswami of Janssen, L.P., +1-609-730-2612,; or Alyse Stolting of Feinstein Kean Healthcare, +1- 617-761-6763,

Web site:

COPYRIGHT 2005 PR Newswire Association LLC

Businessman's death remains mystery.

The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colorado) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News); 6/16/2005

Byline: Patrick Malone

Jun. 16--The death of Canon City businessman and philanthropist Darryl Biggerstaff remains a mystery -- at least from an official standpoint.

Biggerstaff, 66, died at his home on May 5. Fremont County Coroner Dr. Dorothy Twellman has told The Pueblo Chieftain only that Biggerstaff died unexpectedly and foul play is not suspected.

A law enforcement official has said Biggerstaff died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. However, Twellman has refused to release the cause and manner of Biggerstaff's death, citing "his prominence in the community." The Fremont County Sheriff's Department also has refused to release reports related to Biggerstaff's death.

One source told The Chieftain Biggerstaff suffered from bipolar disorder, a condition that ends in suicide about 20 percent of the time.

Efforts by The Chieftain and its legal counsel to compel Twellman to release the cause and manner of Biggerstaff's death have been met with threats by the coroner to "no longer cooperate with the newspaper."

The newspaper presented Twellman with a formal request under Colorado's Open Records law to release the cause and manner of Biggerstaff's death. Twellman responded that it is not her practice to release information about suicides.

However, her stance was contradicted by five published accounts that have appeared in The Chieftain, in which Twellman acknowledged deaths by suicide in her jurisdiction. The most recent appeared in Tuesday's edition of the newspaper.

The newspaper's policy on suicides is to report them only when they are committed in public places, involve someone with a high-profile in the community or in cases that involve some question as to whether foul play was involved but later may be ruled a suicide, according to Managing Editor Steve Henson.

Pueblo County Coroner James Kramer said it is the policy of his office to conduct autopsies in the overwhelming majority of gunshot deaths.

"Gunshot-related deaths (in Pueblo County) are fully investigated, and the majority of the time, autopsies are done," Kramer said. "The only time they are not done is if there are clear-cut indications -- either a witness or a suicide note or a strong history (of attempted suicide) -- but autopsies are probably conducted 99 percent of the time."

Even in the presence of a suicide note, Kramer sometimes orders an autopsy.

"Family input is very important and should be part of the process taken into consideration," said Kramer. "There are certainly times when a family might prefer an autopsy not be done, but based on the circumstances, the coroner has the right to overrule the family."

Kramer said it's his office's policy to release at least cause and manner of death in cases it investigates in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

"I have withheld release of that information if notification of next of kin has not been made or if we are still in the immediate process of pending autopsy results, but I will generally release cause and manner."

Kramer said he has never withheld cause or manner of a death based on a citizen's prominence.

"That's not consistent with my policies," Kramer said. "I think certainly the family has the right to know first and foremost, but I think the Freedom of Information Act is very clear and very specific that all citizens should be treated equally. One's social status should not determine a cause of variance in death investigation."

To see more of The Pueblo Chieftain, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2005, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail

COPYRIGHT 2005 The Pueblo Chieftain

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