Multi-target strategies for the improved treatment of depressive states: Conceptual foundations and neuronal substrates, drug discovery and therapeutic application.
ABSTRACT Major depression is a debilitating and recurrent disorder with a substantial lifetime risk and a high social cost. Depressed patients generally display co-morbid symptoms, and depression frequently accompanies other serious disorders. Currently available drugs display limited efficacy and a pronounced delay to onset of action, and all provoke distressing side effects. Cloning of the human genome has fuelled expectations that symptomatic treatment may soon become more rapid and effective, and that depressive states may ultimately be "prevented" or "cured". In pursuing these objectives, in particular for genome-derived, non-monoaminergic targets, "specificity" of drug actions is often emphasized. That is, priority is afforded to agents that interact exclusively with a single site hypothesized as critically involved in the pathogenesis and/or control of depression. Certain highly selective drugs may prove effective, and they remain indispensable in the experimental (and clinical) evaluation of the significance of novel mechanisms. However, by analogy to other multifactorial disorders, "multi-target" agents may be better adapted to the improved treatment of depressive states. Support for this contention is garnered from a broad palette of observations, ranging from mechanisms of action of adjunctive drug combinations and electroconvulsive therapy to "network theory" analysis of the etiology and management of depressive states. The review also outlines opportunities to be exploited, and challenges to be addressed, in the discovery and characterization of drugs recognizing multiple targets. Finally, a diversity of multi-target strategies is proposed for the more efficacious and rapid control of core and co-morbid symptoms of depression, together with improved tolerance relative to currently available agents.
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ABSTRACT: Pharmacotherapy is effective in helping many patients suffering from psychiatric and neurological disorders, and both psychotherapeutic and stimulation-based techniques likewise have important roles to play in their treatment. However, therapeutic progress has recently been slow. Future success for improving the control and prevention of brain disorders will depend upon deeper insights into their causes and pathophysiological substrates. It will also necessitate new and more rigorous methods for identifying, validating, developing and clinically deploying new treatments. A field of Research and Development (R and D) that remains critical to this endeavour is Neuropsychopharmacology which transformed the lives of patients by introducing pharmacological treatments for psychiatric disorder some 60 years ago. For about half of this time, the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) has fostered efforts to enhance our understanding of the brain, and to improve the management of psychiatric disorders. Further, together with partners in academia and industry, and in discussions with regulators and patients, the ECNP is implicated in new initiatives to achieve this goal. This is then an opportune moment to survey the field, to analyse what we have learned from the achievements and failures of the past, and to identify major challenges for the future. It is also important to highlight strategies that are being put in place in the quest for more effective treatment of brain disorders: from experimental research and drug discovery to clinical development and collaborative ventures for reinforcing "R and D". The present article sets the scene, then introduces and interlinks the eight articles that comprise this Special Volume of European Neuropsychopharmacology. A broad-based suite of themes is covered embracing: the past, present and future of "R and D" for psychiatric disorders; complementary contributions of genetics and epigenetics; efforts to improve the treatment of depression, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders; and advances in the analysis and neuroimaging of cellular and cerebral circuits. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. and ECNP. All rights reserved.European Neuropsychopharmacology 02/2015; 25(5). DOI:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.01.015 · 5.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Modern neuropsychopharmacology commenced in the 1950s with the serendipitous discovery of first-generation antipsychotics and antidepressants which were therapeutically effective yet had marked adverse effects. Today, a broader palette of safer and better-tolerated agents is available for helping people that suffer from schizophrenia, depression and other psychiatric disorders, while complementary approaches like psychotherapy also have important roles to play in their treatment, both alone and in association with medication. Nonetheless, despite considerable efforts, current management is still only partially effective, and highly-prevalent psychiatric disorders of the brain continue to represent a huge personal and socio-economic burden. The lack of success in discovering more effective pharmacotherapy has contributed, together with many other factors, to a relative disengagement by pharmaceutical firms from neuropsychiatry. Nonetheless, interest remains high, and partnerships are proliferating with academic centres which are increasingly integrating drug discovery and translational research into their traditional activities. This is, then, a time of transition and an opportune moment to thoroughly survey the field. Accordingly, the present paper, first, chronicles the discovery and development of psychotropic agents, focusing in particular on their mechanisms of action and therapeutic utility, and how problems faced were eventually overcome. Second, it discusses the lessons learned from past successes and failures, and how they are being applied to promote future progress. Third, it comprehensively surveys emerging strategies that are (1), improving our understanding of the diagnosis and classification of psychiatric disorders; (2), deepening knowledge of their underlying risk factors and pathophysiological substrates; (3), refining cellular and animal models for discovery and validation of novel therapeutic agents; (4), improving the design and outcome of clinical trials; (5), moving towards reliable biomarkers of patient subpopulations and medication efficacy and (6), promoting collaborative approaches to innovation by uniting key partners from the regulators, industry and academia to patients. Notwithstanding the challenges ahead, the many changes and ideas articulated herein provide new hope and something of a framework for progress towards the improved prevention and relief of psychiatric and other CNS disorders, an urgent mission for our Century. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. and ECNP. All rights reserved.European Neuropsychopharmacology 02/2015; 25(5). DOI:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.01.016 · 5.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Psychopharmacology has had some bad publicity lately. Frankly, there have been some major problems along the way in developing new effective drugs for psychiatric disorders. After a prolonged period of high investments but low success rates, big pharmaceutical companies seem to retract their activities in the psychopharmacology field. Yet, the burden of mental disorders is likely to keep on growing in the next decades. In this position paper, we focus on drug development for depression and anxiety disorders, to narrow the scope of the assay. We describe the current situation of the psychopharmacology field, and analyse some of the methods and paradigms that have brought us here, but which should perhaps change to bring us even further. In addition, some of the factors contributing to the current stagnation in psychopharmacology are discussed. Finally, we suggest a number of changes that could lead to a more rational strategy for central nervous system drug development and which may circumvent some of the pitfalls leading to "me too" approaches. Central to the suggested changes, is the notion that mental disorders do not lead to several symptoms, but a network of causally related symptoms convolutes into a mental disorder. We call upon academia to put these changes in the early phases of drug development into effect. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.European journal of pharmacology 03/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.ejphar.2015.03.020 · 2.68 Impact Factor