Policy ForumMedicine

What Are the Right Targets for Psychopharmacology?

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Science  17 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5605, pp. 350-351
DOI: 10.1126/science.1077141

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Successive generations of medicines to treat mental illness have reduced the burden of suffering for these diseases, but for many patients, treatment-resistant symptoms and disabilities suggest we must do better. It is widely recognized that advances in genetics and molecular neurobiology will hasten the identification of new molecular targets, but these may not result in effective new treatments unless we also develop better "clinical targets": dimensions of psychopathology or dysfunction more proximate to pathophysiology. Such clinical targets are not necessarily well represented in our currently accepted clinical endpoints and consensus-derived diagnostic systems for mental disorders.