Bipolar Disorder Pharmacology: Old mysteries and New Avenues

Bipolar disorder is a brain illness afecting between 1 and 2% of the global population. While it has a strong hereditary component, little is known about the biological mechanisms involved in the pathology of bipolar disorder. This paucity of knowledge has prevented the rational development of pharmacological bipolar disorder treatment. However, the chance discovery of an effect of lithium on bipolar disorder more then 60 years ago has shown that bipolar disorder can be treated pharmacologically. Since then several approaches have been developed. Among them, a class of drug termed mood-stabilizers has become an avenue of choice for the treatment of bipolar disorder. However has in the case of lithium, the bases of the action of these drugs on bipolar disorder symptoms his not well understood. One approach to develop better treatments is to understand what present treatments do. In this webcast we will present an overview of what is known of the pharmacological actions of mood stabilizers and explore how this can provide new avenues for the development of better treatments.

Dr Martin Beaulieu completed his PhD in Neuroscience at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He subsequently worked as a post-doctoral researcher at Duke University, NC prior to becoming professor and Canada research Chair in Molecular Psychiatry at Laval University, Quebec-City, Canada. Dr Beaulieu’s research is aimed at understanding how signaling mechanisms responding to dopamine and serotonin intersect with the functions of molecules involved in mental illnesses. In the course of this work he identified a new molecular target responsible for some of the behavioral effects of lithium in animal models. Dr Beaulieu and his group are presently investigating the suitability of this new target for the development of safer and more efficient pharmaceutical treatments for bipolar disorder.

 

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