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HEARD ON THE BEAT / HEALTH CARE

Firm Is Testing Schizophrenia Treatment

June 19, 1996|BARBARA MARSH | Barbara Marsh covers health care for The Times

Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc. believes that its experimental drug Ampalex could be used to treat schizophrenia more effectively than remedies now available.

The Irvine-based development and research company recently cited results of two studies--one by scientists at UC Irvine, another by both Cortex and UCI researchers.

Researchers injected rats with methamphetamines to simulate a mental condition similar to schizophrenia. Ampalex appeared to offset the effects of the meth, said Scott Hagen, the company's chief financial officer.

Hagen said the drug might be able to treat such schizophrenic symptoms as social withdrawal and a patient's sense of disorientation. Its use might also mitigate the side effects of a drug now used to treat related symptoms, such as hallucinations, by lowering the required dosage of the other medication.

Hagen said the company has yet to begin extensive trials of Ampalex as a schizophrenia treatment on human beings. Even if all the research should pan out as hoped, he said, it would be at least four years before the drug appeared on the market.

Barbara Marsh can be reached at (714) 966-7762 and at barbara.marsh@latimes.com.

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