PRISM is a project that aims to help us find new treatments more quickly for the three most common brain disorders in Europe: Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and major depression (see details below). These three disorders together cost society some 312 billion euros every year.
The project is innovative: for the first time, it will look at a symptom these three diseases have in common – social withdrawalSocial withdrawalIn several brain disorders as the disease gets worse suffers no longer seek to interact with family, friends and acquaintances as much as they had, or is normal for people of similar age and background. This goes beyond loneliness and/or shyness both in terms of degree and duration. In many cases the most notable feature is the change in character and behaviour that is most notable and worrying to carers, friends and family.. Currently a doctor choses a treatment based on the patient’s symptoms. What we want to find out is if there are similar, or different, biological reasons causing this shared symptom. If there different biological causes then new treatments can be developed more quickly which target the biological mechanisms that go wrong and cause social withdrawalSocial withdrawalIn several brain disorders as the disease gets worse suffers no longer seek to interact with family, friends and acquaintances as much as they had, or is normal for people of similar age and background. This goes beyond loneliness and/or shyness both in terms of degree and duration. In many cases the most notable feature is the change in character and behaviour that is most notable and worrying to carers, friends and family..
In the first phase of the project we will recruit two groups of subjects, one of Alzheimer’s and the other schizophrenic patients. These patients will be asked to undergo assessment at the hospital and at home. The hospital tests will include a brain scan (fMRI), measurement of the brain’s electrical activity (EEG), a blood sample along with tests of memory and assessments of other behaviours. In addition, the patients will be asked to use a Smart phone App for a period of time that will enable the project to “measure” the level “Social withdrawal”. The data from all of these approaches will then be looked at together for patterns that allow the team to identify different clusters subjects have similar symptoms but different biological problems. The project plans a second phase that will then extend the study to include patients suffering from Major depression.
PRISM puts working with patients, patient and family organisation and regulatory agencies at the core of the project. Together with patient and family organization EUFAMI, major EU Medical Centres, and government agencies we aim to provide clear routes for future development, clinical trials and government approval of new treatments. We believe that by working with all relevant stakeholders in this study will help to pave the way forward to new improved drugs and better clinical practise for the treatment of the psychiatric symptoms seen in dementia, schizophrenia and depression.
There are over 30 million people with dementia worldwide and will double by 2030. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.
You can find further information on symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, how it is diagnosed, and treatments via
Schizophrenia is a severe neuropsychiatric disorder that affects around 0.5 – 1% of the population. It occurs when the parts of the brain responsible for emotion and sensation stop working properly. The illness can develop slowly and a person may stop living their normal life, withdrawing from people, losing interest in things and possibly having angry outbursts.
You can find further information on symptoms of Schizophrenia, how it is diagnosed, and treatments from the UK patient organisation Rethink Mental Illness.
Major depressive disorder – or short depression – is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It is a significant medical condition that can affect many areas of your life. It impacts mood and behavior as well as various physical functions, such as appetite and sleep. It is a very common psychiatric disorder: 5% of the population suffered from depression in the last year, whereas one out of 6 individuals will face depression during their lives.
You can find further information on symptoms of major depressive disorder, how it is diagnosed, and treatments from the UK support Depression Alliance.