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Study to test anti-inflammatory drug in bipolar patients

San Antonio (May 22, 2003) — San Antonio-area patients with depression and bipolar disorder may be eligible to join a new study testing the potential of Celebrex®, an anti-inflammatory medication, in the treatment of these disorders. The principal investigator is Jair C. Soares, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and radiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC).

The Health Science Center will recruit 80 participants over the next three years. Half will receive Celebrex®, the trade name for celecoxib, and the other half a placebo from weeks one to six. After six weeks, all patients will receive celecoxib, which currently is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment portion of the trial ends at 12 weeks. "Anyone who does not respond in the first six weeks will be assured of getting the celecoxib in the second half of the study," Dr. Soares said.

Prospective participants may call Rene Gonzalez, study coordinator, at (210) 567-0781. Participants will be compensated for their time. The study is made possible by a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Stanley Medical Research Institute, a leading supporter of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder research.

Celecoxib lowers production of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (or cox-2). This enzyme, which is produced inside cells throughout the body, is involved in inflammation. Celecoxib inhibits cox-2 in the joints to help relieve pain in patients with degenerative joint disease. "Our patients experience swings from the manic phase to depression," said Dr. Soares, holder of the Krus Endowed Chair in Psychiatry at UTHSC and chief of the division of mood and anxiety disorders. "Bipolar disorder could involve a type of reaction in the brain cells that in some aspects resembles inflammation. By cutting production of cox-2 through the administration of this medicine, we hope to see improvement in the depressive episodes."

Contact: Will Sansom or Aileen Salinas