The areas of investigation in neuroscience carry out the genetic and clinical study of a number of diseases and disorders that affect the central nervous system, such as epilepsy (including rare diseases, with epilepsy being one of them), dementia, movement disorders, and suicidal conduct. Psychiatric pharmacogenetics and psychiatric care are also activities of this area.
The main objective of the neurology group is to study a number of highly prevalent pathologies affecting the central nervous system by using molecular genetic techniques and animal models, this without disregarding the rare diseases appearing in each group of pathologies. The goal is to gain additional knowledge on the physiopathology of diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and inherited types of epilepsy (both common and rare patologies, such as Lafora disease), thus creating diagnostic and therapy tools that can improve the treatment received by patients with these conditions.
The psychiatry group seeks to study the genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset, progression, and treatment of mental disorders. This goal is complemented by research into the factors that influence the treatment received by patients with mental disorders within the public system. Schizophrenia, affective disorders, and substance abuse are some of the diseases that are given priority under this framework due to their greater prevalence and seriousness. One of the consequences of mental illness is suicidal conduct, a major cause of mortality and years of potential life lost in developed countries.
These two groups work in collaboration with the Department of Signal Theory and Communications at the Carlos III University to develop measuring devices and instruments to monitor patients' epileptic seizures, movements, and behavior based on their psychomotor performance.
The Mitochondrial Signaling and Aging Group study the role of calcium signaling in brain metabolism and the role of aralar and SCaMCs in pathologies affecting humans.
The most basic research carried out in these groups generates knowledge by studying cell and animal models of disease (epilepsy, dementia, or aging), which is then transferred to the clinical side of the groups in order to arrive at new treatment approaches to the diseases.
The Neuroscience Area works in collaboration with the Genetics and Genomics Area, sharing tools and carrying out joint projects. The group also provides Genetics and Genomics with diagnostic techniques to be used in clinical practice.
Challenges for the future
- Develop, validate, and implement systems of monitoring motor activity in neurological and psychiatric illnesses in order to assess disease severity.
- Identify the genes involved in neurologic and psychiatric diseases and the ways in which these genes interact with environmental factors, all with the goal of increasing the precision, personalization, and effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment.
- Develop and validate diagnostic tools using massive gene sequencing to study the common and rare forms of epilepsy.
- Establish a unit for the study of animal models of neurologic diseases in order to develop therapy approaches that may be developed into clinical trials in humans.
- Establish units that are reference points for the study of rare forms of dementia, movement disorders, and epilepsy.
- Consolidate the application of machine learning to analyze genetic and medical databases within the field of psychiatry.
- Create a mouse model for disruption of the gene aralar that allows for precise determination of the gene's role in pre- and postnatal and adult phases, potentially opening up the possibility of treating epileptic seizures with a ketogenic diet.
- Psychiatry and mental health
- Mitochondrial Calcium signaling