Researchers at Lundbeck have made breakthrough discoveries giving hope for new treatments of schizophrenia that may help patients who cannot be treated today. We have identified several mechanisms in the brain which are not targeted by current treatments but our research show that they are part of the underlying disease biology. Therefore, they are thought highly relevant to target and this would likely lead to much better outcomes for many patients.
Using gene-modified mice, also invented by Lundbeck, we have been able to conduct research in organisms with the same DNA-mutations found in schizophrenia patients. Further we utilized highly advanced machine learning techniques to analyze the separations between healthy and ill brains and how to normalize the function of brain cells that were disrupted because of the DNA-mutations.
Schizophrenia symptoms are believed to be caused by miscommunication between brain areas. The miscommunication may be caused by lack of synchronization of the activity of neurons in the brain. Normalizing synchronization of neurons is expected to improve communication between brain areas and thereby threat the symptoms of schizophrenia. This is yet to be confirmed in clinical studies, but data is very robust as we have tested the approach in different DNA-mutations leading to schizophrenia and the identified treatments were able to normalize brain cell function in all of them.
Based on the findings we are now starting research projects aiming at developing medicines that will target the relevant mechanisms in the brain. Thanks to the clinical-genetic starting point we have a much stronger platform targeting the underlying disease biology than what we used to have in the more traditional approach, which is primarily based on clinical-behavioral symptoms.
It may be 10 years or more before we will have approved treatments, but we are encouraged and optimistic that we may have found the basis for creating much better treatments for many patients based on affecting the underlying biological reasons for schizophrenia.