Major grant from the Lundbeck Foundation for 5-year thematic alliance within precision medicine in epilepsy and depression

Professor Gitte Moos Knudsen, head of NRU, has received a major grant worth 40 million Danish kroner from the Lundbeck Foundation for a highly ambitious thematic alliance called BrainDrugs. Perfectly aligned with the National Strategy for Personalized Medicine 2017-2020, the aim of the new thematic alliance is to establish which key features predict drug response in patients with epilepsy or depression. The BrainDrugs consortium is composed of a multidisciplinary team of experienced investigators from The Capital Region, Aarhus and the specialized epilepsy hospital Filadelfia, assisted by two international experts within the field. The project will start July 1st, 2019 and run for five years.

Background: Depression and epilepsy constitute frequent and disabling brain disorders. All together, they cripple the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people in today’s society and cause immense socioeconomic problems. About 35% of society’s disease-related costs can be ascribed to brain disorders, with depression accounting for the largest costs. Neuropharmacological interventions are widely used to ameliorate some of these conditions, but quite often, drugs are used in the wrong patients, wrong combinations, or in wrong dosages.

Materials and Methods: In BrainDrugs we will make use of Danish registries to identify associations between intake of brain targeting drugs and clinical outcomes in order to uncover which patient features define a successful antidepressive or antiepileptic drug treatment. To investigate if we can identify patient subgroups, we will conduct advanced text-mining analyses which extract specific clinical features from electronic patient records. Through existing deep phenotyping or genetic databases with biobanks, those features will be related to, e.g., genetic and neuroimaging data to define biologically valid patient subgroups suffering from depression and epilepsy. To increase power to detect biomarkers and treatment response, we will establish new cohorts of patients with epilepsy and depression that we follow longitudinally.

Expected outcome and perspectives: It is our ambition to set the stage for a precision medicine approach in pharmacological treatment of epilepsy and depression, for the benefit of future patients. To succeed in our mission, we have devised a  strategy for implementation of research outcomes in the clinic. It is our hope that in the long run, BrainDrugs can serve as a model to be implemented internationally, and for other brain disorders.

A 2-min video pitch of the project can be found here.
Listen to an interview with Gitte on DR P1 Morgen here.