University of Nottingham: New study launched to investigate targeted treatments for Schizophrenia

A new study to investigate the development of targeted treatments for cognitive impairment in Schizophrenia has been launched today.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham are working with Monument Therapeutics, a stratified medicine drug development company, on a pioneering preclinical study to support the combination of cognitive biomarker and psychopharmacology approaches to treat cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a serious long-term illness rooted in abnormal function of the brain. As well as experiencing hallucinations and delusions, people diagnosed with schizophrenia show significant impairment in cognitive functions such as memory, learning and attention which greatly impacts their day-to-day life. Currently, there are no treatments available for cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia, despite considerable efforts by pharmaceutical companies over the last decade. One of the key reasons for this, is that all patients with schizophrenia do not have the same underlying biological dysfunctions and are therefore unlikely to all respond to the same type of drug tested in a clinical trial. This means a negative result in a clinical trial that includes all patients, may actually be masking beneficial treatment effects in specific subgroups of patients with schizophrenia.

Monument Therapeutics aim to solve this issue by using a digital task (a cognitive biomarker) to select specific subgroups of patients with schizophrenia that share similar biological and cognitive pathology. This approach potentially allows the identification of the specific patients for whom their drug treatment will work, thereby increasing the chance of clinical trial success. Precision medicine approaches i.e. tailoring treatments to subgroups of patients with similar pathology have been successful in cancer therapies but have not been widely applied to psychiatric disorders. The first human clinical trials in this programme are scheduled to start in 2022.

We are very excited to partner with Monument Therapeutics in this innovative drug development programme. The team at the University of Nottingham, which includes Professor Claire Gibson and Dr Stuart Williams, will take the first preclinical steps to evaluate this approach by testing the candidate drug in a preclinical model of cognition to determine efficacy, safety and dose selection for the human clinical trials. This preclinical work builds on long-standing research at Nottingham in translational models relevant to schizophrenia.
Dr Paula Moran, formerly Associate Professor in Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Nottingham, School of Psychology, and lead on the study
Dr Kiri Granger, Chief Scientific Officer of Monument added: “Monument’s initial targets are areas of unmet clinical need with limited treatment options. Schizophrenia affects around 20 million people worldwide1, however there are no approved treatments for the common and disabling cognitive impairment associated with the disorder. By combining our proprietary cognitive biomarker and vast experience in the design of schizophrenia trials with the preclinical expertise of Dr Moran’s team, we intend to bring new hope to this underserved sector.”