News FocusMysteries of the Brain

Why Is Mental Illness So Hard to Treat?

Science  05 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6103, pp. 32-33
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6103.32

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Summary

Uncovering the roots of psychiatric illness has not been easy. Not only is the brain the most complex organ in the body, but it's also harder to study. Doctors and researchers can't biopsy a patient's brain, and it's unclear how well disorders of the human mind can be studied in other species. Leaders in the field argue that too much effort has been spent looking for compounds similar to the early psychiatric drugs or tweaking their chemistry to eke out improvements in efficacy, reduce their side effects, and preserve the revenue stream generated by patent-protected drugs. However, several new tools and new ways of thinking could help the field gain new traction. (Read about more "Mysteries of the Brain.")