Cognitive deficits -- including impairments in areas such as memory, attention, and executive function -- are a major determinant and predictor of long-term disability in schizophrenia. Unfortunately, available antipsychotic medications are relatively ineffective in improving cognition. Scientific discoveries during the past decade suggest that there may be opportunities for developing medications that will be effective for improving cognition in schizophrenia. The NIMH has identified obstacles that are likely to interfere with the development of pharmacological agents for treating cognition in schizophrenia. These include: (1) a lack of a consensus as to how cognition in schizophrenia should be measured; (2) differing opinions as to the pharmacological approaches that are most promising; (3) challenges in clinical trial design; (4) concerns in the pharmaceutical industry regarding the US Food and Drug Administration''s (FDA) approaches to drug approval for this indication; and (5) issues in developing a research infrastructure that can carry out clinical trials of promising drugs. The MATRICS program will bring together representatives of academia, industry, and government in a consensus process for addressing all of these obstacles. Specific goals of the NIMH MATRICS are: * To catalyze regulatory acceptance of cognition in schizophrenia as a target for drug registration. * To promote development of novel compounds to enhance cognition in schizophrenia. * Leverage economic research power of industry to focus on important but neglected clinical targets. * Identify lead compounds and if deemed feasible, support human proof of concept trials for cognition in schizophrenia.
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