In a recent article for The Observer I noted that almost all the major drug companies had closed down their neuroscience divisions as evidence for a move away from a ‘chemical-based’ to a ‘circuit-based’ approach to treatments.
So to my surprise, a new Nature News article has just appeared discussing the re-launch of pharmaceutical giant Novartis’s neuroscience section.
However, as I read the beginning of the article, it seems they are just banking on the fact that they can design drugs good enough to hit individual brain circuits.
In a sign that psychiatric-disease research is entering a new era, the pharmaceutical giant Novartis has hired an expert in neural circuitry, rather than pharmacology, to head its relaunched neuroscience division.
The appointment of 42-year-old Ricardo Dolmetsch, who has spent his entire career in academic research, signifies a radical policy shift for the company, as it moves away from conventional neurotransmitter research to concentrate on analysing the neural circuitry that causes brain diseases.
Well. Best of luck with that.
I may be wrong, but I suspect dousing the brain in a chemical which is supposed to affect only selected circuits may be folly.
Then again, maybe we need to think outside the pill box. Perhaps microinjections of drugs directly into the brain is the future.
Either way, it seems the big money is being increasingly invested in the idea that useful treatments will be tweaking brain circuits.
Link to ‘Novartis reboots brain division’ from Nature News.