Appointment of Francesc Artigas, Group leader
We have always been interested in understanding the complexity of cerebral circuits with a view to improving the treatment of mental illnesses

Current research

Problem

Depression and schizophrenia are very likely the two mental illnesses with the greatest socioeconomic and personal impact. Current treatments, based on pharmacological principles that have existed for over 40 years, are slow-acting and ineffective, which reduces the quality of life of patients and increases the risk of suicide among those who fail to respond.

For this reason, one of the great challenges of translational neuroscience in the 21st century is to understand the alterations of the neural circuits responsible for such diseases and design new therapies that are more efficient.

Approach

The group studies brain circuits and the neural elements involved in the pathophysiology and treatment of depression and schizophrenia, and also analyses the psychiatric and cognitive aspects of Parkinson’s disease.

To achieve this, the group uses a wide array of experimental strategies in animal models, including molecular, histological, electrophysiological, neurochemical and behavioural approximations, which makes it possible to obtain a detailed vision of how brain circuits function at different levels of complexity, facilitating the identification of new therapeutic targets.

Impact

Over the years, the group has emerged as an international reference in the field of neuropsychopharmacology, with a special mention being given to their studies on the role of serotonin receptors in the antidepressant action mechanism. This information has led to the development of new drugs by pharmaceutical companies.

The group has also established a new animal model to identify drugs with an antipsychotic effect, and its recent accomplishments include research in designing new translational therapeutic strategies based on RNA regulators to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease.