Appointment of Francesc Artigas, Group leader (R4-IIBB-CSIC)
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 the same pharmacological principles that first generation drugs 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.

Likewise, psychiatric and cognitive disturbances in Parkinson’s disease lack appropriate treatment. Hence, 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 synaptic processes involved in the pathophysiology and treatment of severe mental illnesses 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, cellular, electrophysiological, neurochemical, and behavioural approaches, which makes it possible to obtain a detailed vision of how brain circuits function at different levels of complexity. The main aim of our research is to identify new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention and biomarkers for diagnosis and early detection or response to treatment. 

Impact

Over the years, the group has consolidated as an international reference in the field of Neuropsychopharmacology, with a special relevance on their studies on the role of serotonin receptors in the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs.  These studies have led to the development of new drugs by pharmaceutical companies.

The group has also developed new animal models to identify potential antipsychotic drugs. More recent accomplishments include the development and use of translational oligonucleotide strategies in Major Depressive Disorder and Parkinson’s disease.