Clinical trials and innovation in psychopharmacology of bipolar and depressive disorders
Our team is involved in clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy and safety of several pharmacological agents, such as intranasal esketamine in addition to comprehensive standard of care for the rapid reduction of depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation, in subjects with a major depressive episode at a high risk for suicide. There are other ongoing clinical trials including trehalose to improve depressive symptomatology in bipolar depression or other agents addressed to patients with treatment-resistant depression. Other drugs such as loxapine and lurasidone are also under study.
Endophenotypes, genetics and biomarkers of affective disorders
Our group is involved in national and international projects that are contributing to important advances in the field of the genetic and epigenetic determinants linked to the development of affective disorders and to treatment response. Our research also aims at identifying subgroups of patients sharing particular endophenotypes that might influence treatment response and prognosis as well as biomarkers useful to identify such endophenotypes.
Epidemiology and disability associated with bipolar and unipolar disorders
Affective disorders are among the leading causes of disability worldwide, and the development of treatments aimed to prevent or diminish functional deterioration in patients with affective disorders is a priority research line in our group. Moreover, in recent years the team has worked together with international research teams in the development of clinical staging systems for bipolar disorder based on clinical features, illness course and functioning. Research on staging systems is expected to allow earlier and more personalized interventions in order to improve illness prognosis and prevent disability.
First affective and psychotic episodes
Our group is focused on early intervention as a critical paradigm for improving disease outcomes, via the evaluation of patients with first episode affective psychoses. There are several ongoing projects including both the assessment of clinical, neurocognitive and functional features and the study of genetic and neuroimaging biomarkers.
Innovative psychological interventions for bipolar disorder and depression
Our group has developed novel psychological interventions for the treatment of affective disorders, i.e. psychoeducation, family intervention, functional remediation and cognitive reserve-enhancing therapies. We are nowadays working on new cost-effective methods in the diagnosis and treatment of affective disorders through the validation and implementation of telematic programs dedicated to clinical monitoring and psychoeducation (SIMPLe app) or cognitive rehabilitation (e-neurocognitive module of functional remediation therapy) and we are currently testing an integrative approach to the management of bipolar disorder.
Neurocognition and neuroimaging of bipolar and unipolar disorders
The group has been a pioneer in the characterization of the neurocognitive alterations associated with affective disorders, both in hot and cold cognition, and in neuroimaging studies of structural and functional brain alterations involved in the development and expression of the disease, including the identification of difficulties in deactivating the default mode network as atrait marker of bipolar illness.
Observational studies in affective disorders
Our group has led sevral observational studies in bipolar disorder and in depressed patients (such as the BRIDGE study) with recent focus on treatment-resistant depression.
Psychometrics of mental disorders
In addition, the research team has developed new clinical scales for the screening of affective disorders and the assessment of cognitive impairment and functioning. This is an area where our group has introduced several innovative tools.
Development, evaluation and implementation of digital technologies in the field of mental health
New digital technologies have opened a wide range of opportunities and challenges in the mental health field. During the last decade, our team have pioneered the development, evaluation, and implementation in clinical practice of diverse digital technologies: wearables collecting novel digital biomarkers (TIMEBASE-INTREPIBD projects), decision-support platforms and chatbots using artificial intelligence (AI) as well as smartphone apps providing personalized interventions to people suffering from mood disorders (PRESTO and SIMPLe projects). This line of research has been funded by several national and international grants, resulting in numerous scientific publications and collaborations with international academic networks.