Translational psychiatry—light at the end of the tunnel

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Neuroscience has made tremendous progress delineating the cellular and molecular processes important for understanding neuronal development and behavior, but this knowledge has been slow to translate to new treatments for psychiatric illness. To accelerate this transfer of knowledge to the human condition requires the wide-scale adoption of biomarkers that can bridge preclinical and clinical discoveries, and serve as surrogate measures of efficacy before commencing expensive phase III studies. Several biomarker methodologies, including imaging, electroencephalography (EEG), and blood transcriptomics/proteomics, are now showing promise. From an industry perspective, we highlight the utility of quantitative EEG as one example of a translatable biomarker applicable to psychiatric drug development and discuss recent insights into glutamate system dysfunction in schizophrenia and depression gained through translational studies of the drug ketamine.

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