New approaches for treating psychiatric disorders

19 November 2018

Scientist looking through microscope

Cardiff University has formed a drug discovery collaboration with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (Takeda) to identify new approaches for treating schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

The collaboration will combine the University’s large scale genomic data, and world-class expertise in psychiatric genetics, genomics and neuroscience, with Takeda’s extensive drug discovery and clinical development capabilities.

“Recent developments in psychiatric genetics and genomics, combined with advances in neuroscience, mean there is now a real prospect of overcoming the obstacles that have held back progress in developing new drugs for psychiatric disorders,” said Professor Lawrence Wilkinson, Scientific Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI) who will co-lead the partnership at Cardiff.

“Takeda’s expertise in successful drug discovery will enable our ambition to use our research to find better treatments for common brain disorders with high levels of unmet need.”

Professor Jeremy Hall, Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute and co-lead, commented: “We are committed to translating our basic and clinical research into safer and more effective treatments for patients.”

The collaboration will allow Takeda access to world-leading biological psychiatry research and the related infrastructure across the University, including the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetic and Genomics, NMHRI, National Centre for Mental Health, and the Brain Repair and Intracranial Neurotherapeutics Unit.

“By working in partnership with world-leading scientific and clinical neuropsychiatric experts at Cardiff University we have a unique opportunity to create a new wave of medicines, that are grounded in the genomic understanding of the disease, for patients suffering from schizophrenia and related psychiatric disorders,” said Ceri Davies, Head of the Neuroscience Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda.

Major psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder, collectively represent an enormous unmet health need, accounting for approximately 20% of all years lost to disability globally, according to the World Health Organization.  

Professor Sir Michael Owen, Director of the Medical Research Council Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics said: “Therapeutic progress for these conditions has been limited by a lack of understanding of their primary causes, however major genetic advances in the last decade, many of which have been led by Cardiff University, have provided new and reliable insights into their biological causation. With our partner Takeda we have an unprecedented opportunity to develop novel therapeutic approaches for neuropsychiatric disorders.”

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