Brain disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and dementia are complex diseases in which a plethora of brain abnormalities are involved which can be at a structural, connectivity, and functional activation level. The development of treatments for these diseases forms one of the major challenges of our time in public health and in the pharmaceutical industry.
New developments in this field of research were presented at the yearly neuroscience applied congress of the ECNP, a European organisation committed to ensuring that advances in the understanding of brain function and human behaviour are translated into better treatments and enhanced public health.
This Medicom Conference Report provides a selection of highlights from the ECNP 2020 congress. These highlights indicate that developments are underway to address the observed heterogeneity in patient populations using quantitative digital and neurobiological biomarkers to allow for stratification of homogeneous patients groups. The ability to link the quantitative biomarkers to the underlying neurobiology would be expected to facilitate the development of early disease indicators and better (personalised) treatments. In addition, these innovative medicine classification approaches could allow physicians to provide patients with a better understanding of the complexities and management of their illness.
Martien Kas is Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The research of his group focuses on determinants of behaviour, especially of behavioural strategies and biological processes that are essential across species and that are affected in various neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g. social interaction and sensory information processing). By means of cross-species genetic analysis of neurobehavioural traits (of mice and men), they aim to identify genotype-phenotype relationships relevant to the development and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimer’s Disease, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. These studies will lead to the understanding of conserved gene function in regulating essential behavioural strategies and will ultimately improve therapeutic and preventive strategies to contribute to healthy ageing. In addition, he is Executive Committee Board member and President-elect of the European College of NeuroPsychopharmacology (ECNP), Editorial board member of Mammalian Genome, and project coordinator of the PRISM project, a large EU Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) project that aims to unpick the biological reasons underlying social withdrawal, which is a common early symptom of Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Major Depressive Disorder.
Conflict of interest:
Prof. Kas has received (non-related) research funding from Novartis.
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