Lecture – From Neuroscience to Novel Treatments for Psychosis

Available with English captions.

Presented by Bruce M. Cohen, MD, PhD, and Dost Öngür, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital – Crossroads in Psychiatry lecture

Psychotic disorders are affected by many interacting factors. In fact, large-scale studies conducted on tens of thousands of people with genetic disorders have shown that genetic factors associated with risk of psychosis number in the thousands.

These studies suggest that no single gene determines more than a small percentage of risk. Also, many genes and gene sets are associated with risk for multiple psychiatric disorders, not just one.

Fortunately, further research indicates that it may not be necessary to characterize every factor to identify a few new targets for clinical therapeutic interventions.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • Risk factors and mechanisms underlying psychotic disorders
  • Multidisciplinary approaches used to discover and characterize these factors and processes
  • How some of these processes, including anomalies of bioenergetics and myelination, might be targeted for therapeutic benefit

In this talk, Cohen and Öngür suggest that the best approach to studying risk factors may be one based on characterizing these disorders at all levels. This approach can also involve seeking mechanistically important correlations within these levels. Finding convergent evidence will help suggest what aspects of brain development and function underlie psychotic illness.

The investigators describe how they have used this approach in their research. Specifically, they explain their studies into the processes that typify the brain, as opposed to other organs. Processes unique to the brain include the need for large amounts of energy, specific cell-to-cell connections, and accurate signal processing.

They report that convergent evidence from genomic, cell biology, and brain imaging studies provide leads that can proceed to initial clinical trials.

Drawing on this research, Cohen and Öngür report that energy production and use, intercell connectivity and signaling, and inflammatory factors are processes that show strong and consistent evidence of abnormality underlying psychoses.

They also state that brain energy metabolism, white matter integrity, and cerebellar connectivity are brain processes that may provide targets for the development of new treatments for psychotic disorders.