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$650 million commitment to Stanley Center at Broad Institute aims to galvanize mental illness research
Date:7/22/2014

es may go awry.

(iii) Develop cellular and animal models that faithfully mimic human disorders. In contrast to researchers studying cancer or diabetes, researchers studying psychiatric disorders have been unable to identify animal models that correctly capture important biological aspects of the disorders and correctly predict which therapies will be effective in humans. Now, with growing knowledge of the genes underlying psychiatric disorders, Broad researchers plan to create cellular models in the laboratory and animal models that more faithfully match both the genetic variation and the biochemical processes seen in human patients. They plan to pioneer cutting-edge techniques such as genome editing, which allows them to precisely introduce any mutations they choose.

(iv) Develop chemicals to modulate biological pathways to serve as drug leads. The researchers plan to build on the existing therapeutic efforts within the Stanley Center and draw on the Broad's Therapeutics Platform – a technological powerhouse with the capacity to create and screen hundreds of thousands of compounds – to identify molecules that can powerfully and precisely influence specific biological pathways relevant to psychiatric disorders. They then plan to comprehensively investigate those chemicals' effects to determine which of them might serve as promising leads for drugs that could be safely and effectively used in humans.

"We're still at the beginning of the curve of translating the emerging genetics into actionable biology, but it's happening much faster than I thought it would," said Scolnick. "I'd be bold enough to say that in five years, all the drug companies that got out of psychiatric research will be getting back in. The coming decades of psychiatric research will yield new science and a needed parallel effort to increase resources for services that can help patients and their families."

About the Stanley Center for Psychiatr
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