iPSCs Platform for Neuropsychiatry (TWG)

Mission statement / AimsiPSCs Platform for Neuropsychiatry (TWG)

Since the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) technology by Yamanaka and Takahashi in 2006, this powerful human stem cell technology has gained great interest worldwide across many biological and medical science fields. Neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism spectrum conditions, schizophrenia, bipolar and ADHD to name a few, have polygenic, neuro-immunological, environmental and developmental causes, with complex aetiology to be yet revealed. Patient specific iPSC-disease models promise new opportunities in treatment monitoring, discovery of optimal medication in homogeneous patient groups and new diagnostic markers for identifying different disease subtypes. High hopes have been raised especially for regenerative medicine, transplantation, immunology, drug discovery and many other fields of basic and translational science. The generation of patient- and disease-specific iPSC cultures, following standardized and reproducible protocols, and the use of these cultures in drug discovery still require rigorous validation of the methods and continuous improvement of protocols and read outs.

The main aim of this ECNP Thematic Working Group (TWG) is to crystallise the use of the iPSC platform, particularly in the field of neuropsychopharmacology and study of neuropsychiatric disorders.

The objectives for the TWG is to gather experts working in the field of iPSC and neuropsychopharmacology to work together to develop this consensus platform, supporting ECNP Networks study groups integrating this technology in their applications and studies of drug therapy, with the following five aims:

  • To create an iPSC interest TWG group, to centralise knowledge and expertise from clinical and basic researchers working with iPSC to study neuropsychiatric disorders and as a tool for drug therapy discovery and personalised medicine.
  • To establish an active network for co-operation of researchers working with iPSC as models for neuropsychiatric disorders, that will act as a pool of experts in the field, for future applications of iPSC modelling to test pre-clinically drug therapy applied by the ECNP Networks.
  • To discuss and reach to a consensus paper in which specific issues regarding generation and use of iPSC, including the generation of different types of neuronal cells and organoids for neuropsychopharmacological research will be achieved. This will include formalising guidelines and standards for the robust and reproducible use of iPSCs for the study of neuropsychopharmacology and neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • At the translational level, human derived neuronal cell models developed in parallel to animal models (e.g. knock out/down) are helpful in validating the role of a certain genetic background in a disease, and therefore support in any further clinical experiments. In the future, it will be expected in large projects to include not only animal models but also human cell models and human patients in parallel to find those neurobiological mechanisms that are indeed causal and important for psychiatric disorders. This will promote precision medicine and new treatment options faster, because the findings that are relevant should be found and validated in every used model. Translational projects like the above mentioned could be conducted by using the iPSC platform we want to establish in the framework of this TWG.
  • As an ideal end-point of the TWG, putting together a grant proposal in a synergistic manner would be a desirable goal of the TWG.