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Published on 5 March 2008

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Breast cancer drug treats bipolar mania


Breast cancer drug Tamoxifen may help to reduce symptoms of mania in people with bipolar disorder, according to research in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The 21 day trial split 66 patients with bipolar disorder into groups receiving either Tamoxifen or a placebo. All patients were also treated with lorazepam.

Those receiving Tamoxifen scored significantly lower on the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) than those in the control group.

In breast cancer patients Tamoxifen alters the effects of oestrogen and inhibits the action of protein kinase C (PKC) family of enzymes. Abnormal activity levels of these enzymes has previously been associated with the characteristics of bipolar disorder.

Researcher Husseini Manji, MD, told “We suspected for a while that a drug that inhibits protein kinase C would have an antimanic effect in these patients.  Tamoxifen isn’t perfect, but it fits the bill.”

Archives of General Psychiatry

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