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Psychopharmacology of psychosis – biological mechanisms and animal models

The research group explores how psychopharmacological drugs work in the treatment of psychotic disorders, using a combination of clinical data, biomarker screening and functional studies in experimental models.

Main aim

The research group aims at identifying and understanding genetic and biological factors that are involved in therapeutic response and adverse effects during psychopharmacological treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Our motivation is based on the limitations in current drug treatment of psychosis, which is still often subject to trial-and-error approaches, due to limited knowledge of biological predictors and mechanisms of action.

Research focus

At present, our main focus is directed towards the role of lipogenic actions of antipsychotic drugs for adverse effects and treatment response. The apparent correlation between drug-induced metabolic effects (e.g., weight gain and lipid disturbances) and positive clinical outcome during antipsychotic treatment deserves further examination. We are also interested in exploring how changes in brain myelination may provide a link between risk for schizophrenia and the mechanism of action of antipsychotic drugs.

  • Examining the possible relationship between metabolic factors and clinical outcome in antipsychotic-treated patients, including clinical samples with first episode psychosis and drug naiive patients
  • Screening for metabolomic and transcriptomic changes during psychopharmacological treatment, using both cross sectional and longitudinal clinical samples with matched controls.
  • Studying the metabolic effect of antipsychotic drugs in experimental models, including long-term exposure (> one year) in rat.

In addition, we participate in several projects to identify genetic risk factors for disease susceptibility and psychosis-relevant phenotypic traits.

The research group is also responsible for running the Genomics Core Facility at the University of Bergen, to provide guidance and service on large scale genomic analyses, such as whole genome-, exome- and RNA sequencing.

Collaboration

We are part of the K.G. Jebsen Center for Psychosis Research, headed by Ole A. Andreassen. Clinical and biological data are available in NORMENT (the TOP sample) and also though our close affiliation with Bergen Psychosis Project 2 (headed by Erik Johnsen). We have specific project collaborations with groups at Karolinska Instition in Stockholm, Sweden, and at the University of Santiago di Compostella in Spain, and we participate in international GWAS consortia.

Funding

The research is funded by the Research Council of Norway, Helse Vest RHF, University of Bergen, Bergen Research Foundation (BFS), Haukeland University Hospital and Dr. Einar Martens Foundation.

Published Jan. 23, 2017 9:22 AM - Last modified Mar. 2, 2017 9:28 AM