Department of Neuroscience part of two larger Collaboration Projects funded by the Lundbeck Foundation
David Gloriam and Rikke Møller receive funding for their projects in collaboration with Ulrik Gether, Jakob Balslev Sørensen and Jean-Francois Perrier.
Neuroscience research aims to generate knowledge that will lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of the brain and the treatment of a wide range of disorders, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression. To tackle these highly complex problems, it is absolutely crucial to draw on a wide range of experts and engage in interdisciplinary collaboration.
That is the concept behind the Collaborative Projects programme, a special initiative under which the Lundbeck Foundation has just announced grants worth millions of kroner to seven Danish researchers and their partners. Two of the projects are in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Neuroscience.
Data-driven design tools to improve treatment of schizophrenia and drug addiction
Grant: DKK 35,000,000
Collaborators: Ulrik Gether, Amy Newman (National Institutes of Health) and Bryan Roth (University of Carolina)
Drugs for neuropsychiatric conditions often have severe side effects and insufficient therapeutic effects, causing most drugs in development to fail. For this reason, different conditions, including schizophrenia and substance use disorders that often are seen in the same patients, are lacking satisfactory therapies today.
In this highly collaborative project, Professor David Gloriam, University of Copenhagen, and his team of collaborators set out to develop data-driven design tools to improve the efficacy of drugs targeting psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and substance use disorders – such as addiction.
The project "Data-driven drug design tools to target therapeutic over side effects" will develop new methods to identify and test how the neuronal disease mechanisms behind schizophrenia and substance use disorders can be better targeted by drugs with more selective mechanism/actions. This could pave the way for more effective treatments with fewer side effects.
Hereditary epilepsy breakthrough
Grant: DKK 20,000,000
Collaborators: Jakob Balslev Sørensen, Jean-Francois Perrier, Philip Ahring (University of Sydney) and Christopher Reid (University of Sydney)
Brain cells communicate via electrical impulses, and maintaining normal brain function requires a delicate balance between inhibitory and activating ones. Excessive inhibition of electrical activity can have a numbing effect, but too much activity can lead to epilepsy.
A small number of newborns have a mutation in a gene that codes for a specific receptor in the brain – the GABA receptor – and this can lead to learning difficulties and epilepsy that is not easy to treat. As this receptor inhibits brain activity, it has been hypothesised that such mutations lead to reduced receptor function and, therefore, to hereditary epilepsy.
However, researchers have recently discovered that this mutation can often lead to enhanced receptor function. Using both stem-cell and mouse models, Professor Rikke Steensbjerre Møller and her project partners will study how mutations that lead to increased receptor function trigger epilepsy and investigate potential new medications to treat patients.