NYC Healthcare News

NIH awards $6.5M for pharmacogenomics study of key mood-stabilizing drug for bipolar disorder

April 01, 2016

Research plans call for diagnosing and treating with lithium a total of 700 patients at the ten sites, following the patients' progress for two years, with a particular emphasis on noting the occurrence of any relapses and the period of time it takes to recover. At the same time, researchers will examine patients' genomes for DNA markers that could ultimately be used to predict how and why some people respond to lithium treatment and others do not.

"If we can identify key genetic markers, then patients can receive the appropriate treatment sooner, and get better faster," said Kelsoe.

Another aspect of the project is to develop a better, deeper understanding of how lithium actually works. "The reality is that we just don't understand a lot of the biology involved," said Kelsoe. "Lithium works, but we don't really know why."

Collaborating with scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Kelsoe and colleagues will study stem cells derived from patients' skin biopsies that have been reprogrammed to become neurons. They will look to see how lithium and other drugs interact with the neurons at a cellular level.

"The discoveries we make could help us improve lithium as an effective drug, or even provide new insights for the development of other drugs and therapies," said Kelsoe.

Source: University of California - San Diego