Project Summary

The current nosology of neuropsychiatric disorders allows for a pragmatic approach to treatment choice, regulation and clinical research that is not based on the biological causes for these disorders. Unfortunately, neuropsychiatric drug development has stalled in the past decades at least in part through the weakness of the link between clinical classification and biological causation. In a coordinated effort bringing togetheracademic experts, SMEs, patient and family organizations, regulators, ECNP and EFPIA partners, this project aims to develop a quantitative biological approach to the understanding of neuropsychiatric diseases that aims to revitalise the discovery and development of more effective treatments for patients. The project will focus on schizophrenia (SZ), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and major depression (MD), disorders that share in part common symptomatologies, including social withdrawal and certain cognitive deficits, such as attention, working memory and sensory processing. Innovative technologies (e.g. EEG, cognitive tasks, (f)MRI, smartphone monitoring, genetics and epigenetics) will be used to deep phenotype a clinical cohort of SZ and AD patients. These data will then be combined with existing clinical data sets from major European and global disease cohorts that also include MD. The aim will be to derive a set of quantifiable biological parameters from these data that allow to cluster and differentiate SZ, AD and MD patients who  are, or are not, socially withdrawn.

This set of parameters will:

  • Provide new classification and assessment tools for social withdrawal and cognitive deficits across three neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • Identify clinically relevant biological substrates for treatment development.
  • Provide predictive model systems for future neurobiological and pharmacological studies.


As a corollary, this innovative approach will deliver a nascent clinical network equipped with a mulitude of methods and techniques able to define the quantitative and systems biology of common symptoms in SZ, AD and MD patients. The consortium will design an equivalent pre-clinical capability that is back-translated and founded on clinical findings to become an integral part of a rational drug discovery process. With patients, major EU medical centres, ECNP and regulatory project partners (EMA and Medicines Evaluation Board), we will provide clear routes for dissemination of results, for the future translation and regulatory approval for new treatments and for solutions to the growing public health challenges of psychiatry and neurology.