, Volume 68, Issue 16, pp 2269-2292
Date: 11 Sep 2012

Upcoming Agents for the Treatment of Schizophrenia

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Abstract

Since the introduction of a group of atypical antipsychotics in the 1990s, there has been a decline in the rate of new antipsychotics being introduced into clinical practice. However, with increasing safety and efficacy concerns over currently available drugs and a dearth of options available for atypical depot formulations, there is a considerable need for the development of new formulations and agents. This review examines the profile of seven antipsychotic drugs currently in the premarketing stage of development and summarizes their mechanism of action, clinical potential and safety.

Asenapine is an antipsychotic with activity for multiple receptors and has potential to improve negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. Bifeprunox is a partial dopamine D2 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptor agonist showing a less than convincing efficacy profile, but which may offer safety advantages over available agents by means of a reduced risk of metabolic complications. Iloperidone is a D2 and 5-HT2A receptor antagonist requiring further studies to establish its effectiveness. It has a high affinity for α1-adrenoceptors, which can lead to associated haemodynamic adverse effects. Nemonapride is essentially a typical antipsychotic drug, similar in structure to sulpiride, which has been available for some time in Japan. It has efficacy against positive symptoms and has shown some antidepressant and anxiolytic properties, although efficacy data for it are somewhat limited. Norclozapine (N-desmethylclozapine) is a major metabolite of clozapine formed by its demethylation. Its partial agonist activity at D2 receptors has raised interest in it as an antipsychotic in its own right. In addition, it appears to have muscarinic agonist activity, which is believed to be responsible for the observed positive effects it has on cognition. It was envisaged to be effective as an adjunct to other agents or at high doses in the treatment of refractory schizophrenia, although a recent randomized, controlled study showed that it was no more effective than placebo in patients with schizophrenia experiencing an acute psychotic episode. Olanzapine pamoate depot injection has shown comparable efficacy to oral olanzapine in several studies. However, it has provoked considerable safety concerns by its association with inadvertent intravascular injection events in numerous patients. This accidental intravascular administration of olanzapine pamoate leads to excessive sedation, confusion, dizziness and altered speech. Post-injection observation periods and postmarketing surveillance are planned following the introduction of the depot. Paliperidone palmitate is the palmitate ester of paliperidone, the major metabolite of risperidone, and is formulated as a long-acting injection for intramuscular use. Its pharmacology is comparable to risperidone, having D2 and 5-HT2A receptor antagonist activity. Efficacy studies have shown positive results, and because paliperidone has no antagonistic activity at cholinergic receptors, it has low potential for anticholinergic adverse effects, including cognitive dysfunction. However, with higher doses, the frequency of extrapyramidal side effects and orthostatic hypotension have been shown to be greater than with placebo.