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Breast Cancer Drug Tames Acute Mania in Bipolar Disorder

Breast Cancer Drug Tames Acute Mania in Bipolar Disorder

BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 12 -- Tamoxifen significantly decreased symptoms of acute mania beginning as early as five days in patients with bipolar disorder in a small pilot study.

The drug, approved to treat breast cancer, maintained its effect throughout a three-week trial with a response rate of 63% for tamoxifen versus 13% for placebo, Carlos A. Zarate, Jr., M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health, and colleagues reported online in the Sept. issue of Bipolar Disorders.

Tamoxifen is a relatively selective protein kinase C inhibitor with the advantage that it crosses the blood-brain barrier, the researchers wrote.

They reasoned that because tamoxifen inhibits protein kinase C directly, it would produce anti-manic effects more rapidly than previously achieved with lithium or valproate (Depacon).

Those two drugs, they said, exert their primary effect considerably upstream of protein kinase C and ultimately work through an indirect cascade of events.

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