We are pleased to inform that Cassis Varlow has been awarded a 3-year Lundbeck Foundation postdoc fellowship for her project "PET Radiotracer Development for the BDNF Signaling Pathway". The grant is worth 2.450.000 DKK and covers Cassis' salary and her project-related running costs. The project period is from April 1, 2024 to March 31, 2027.

This project is focused on exploring the relationship between brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), synaptic density changes, and the effects of psychedelics on the brain. BDNF is a crucial protein involved in the growth and maintenance of neurons, and its connection to various mental health conditions makes it an important research target. The project has two primary aims: Firstly, to develop a radioligand for in vivo neuroimaging of BDNF with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. This aims to overcome the current limitations in measuring BDNF, which has typically been measurable only in blood or post-mortem brain tissue. Secondly, to investigate changes in postsynaptic density in response to psychedelics. The project seeks to explore whether psychedelics, known to increase presynaptic density, also affect postsynaptic density. Additionally, the study aims to measure synaptic density, plasticity, and inflammation after the administration of classical psychedelics. If successful, this research outcome could have significant implications as access to a BDNF PET neuroimaging radioligand enables the quantification of BDNF levels in the living brain. Our results would also provide insights into how psychedelics influence BDNF and synaptogenesis, shedding light on their pharmacological effects on the brain. Finally, elucidation of the relationship between synaptogenesis and BDNF induced by psychedelics, will contribute to a deeper understanding of these processes.