Attempts to cure brain-related disorders have proved less successful than therapies for other major conditions such as heart cancer, even though just as many people suffer from them. About 600 million worldwide each year are afflicted by depression alone, more than any other condition except heart disease, and yet of those given existing drugs, only half recover.
Furthermore progress treating depression as well as other major brain disorders has stalled. This stark fact lies behind an ambitious European proposal to revive the field. The proposal, to be presented at EuroBioForum, in Lisbon in December 2007, aims to develop a ground breaking multi-disciplinary research project which would propel Europe to the head of global research into the crucial role of neurotransmitters in brain disorders. Bringing together the relevant specialisms in chemistry, radio-chemistry, in vivo modelling, and above all PET and SPECT scanning, the project would exploit recent advances both in PET (Positron Emission Tomography), and SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computer Tomography), enabling metabolic activity such as levels of neurotransmitters to be determined with greater accuracy in space and quantity.
The objective is to develop new methods to identify the release of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, serotonin, acetylcholine, and endorphins, in the brain and so examine their role in major brain disorders. This in turn will enable more effective therapies to be developed than current drugs, which often fail to work, according to the project's leader David Nutt, Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol, UK. Professor Nutt is presenting his vision for this groundbreaking project at the EuroBioForum conference, which is organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) with support from the European Commission.
The programme has great potential for human health given the vast number of people affected, but as Professor Nutt pointed out, the scale of the task is great.
"We don't even know for example whether serotonin levels are high or low in depressed people," said Professor Nutt. This is despite the fact that many current anti-depressant drugs, including Prozac, alter the uptake of serotonin by key receptors in the brain. Professor Nutt's observation shows that there is a lack of knowledge over how existing drugs work, and until greater understanding is reached, it will be very difficult to make further progress.
Until now researchers have been deterred by the sheer extent of the problem in unravelling the complex links between multiple neurotransmitters and a range of conditions. This, said Professor Nutt, is big science on the same level as the Human Genome Project, or splitting the atom. It requires a huge harmonised effort, combining the forces of academia and the pharmaceutical industry. Until now neurological research has tended to be fragmented, with industry more concerned with improving existing therapies and determining correct combinations of drugs and dosage levels. Meanwhile academia has tended to plough too many small furrows, without tackling the big picture.
The EuroBioForum conference will provide the platform for researchers to unite behind a common larger goal. As Professor Nutt commented, "the conference offers a unique opportunity for the academic community, research funding organisations, government, industry and policy making organisations to share ideas and contribute to key policy and funding decisions." He added, "I'm extremely pleased to have been invited to such an important event and delighted that for the first time a brain research programme has been shortlisted under this initiative."
The EuroBioForum conference, held annually and organised by the ESF with support from the EU, is a key event in the European research funding calendar. Its purpose is to provide a platform for representatives from the European scientific community to deliver their vision for grand challenges in the life sciences and so influence future European research funding priorities. The conference offers a unique opportunity for the academic community, research funding agencies, government, industry and policy making organizations, to share ideas and contribute to key funding decisions.
Thomas Lau | alfa
World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering