Selectively targeting serotonergic neuron subtypes to create precision neuro-psychiatric therapeutics

Targeting central monoamine systems, such as the brain serotonergic neural system, continues to be the strategy of choice for the treatment of psychiatric disorders including depression and schizophrenia. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely prescribed; however, because such agents act broadly on the serotonergic system en masse, they suffer from significant side effect profiles and limited efficacy. The Dymecki lab believes that these current limitations could be overcome by new therapeutic strategies that recognize and address the molecular and functional heterogeneity that exists among serotonergic neurons.

Dysfunction of serotonin (5-HT) signaling in the central nervous system has been implicated in numerous debilitating and clinically distinct human disorders including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, hyper-aggression, addiction, schizophrenia, autism, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and chronic pain. Over the past five years, the Dymecki lab has begun to parse 5-HT neurons into discrete molecular and functional subtypes using novel intersectional genetic methods. This approach allows selective isolation of these unique subtypes and can be used to further identify novel drug targets with the capacity to offer much improved selectivity of action on a particular serotonergic neuron subtype or circuit, and thus on a particular behavior or physiology, thereby reducing side effects and enhancing treatment efficacy over existing therapies.

A provisional application (HU 5164) has been filed for this technology and is available for worldwide, exclusive licensing. This technology is also available for collaborative and sponsored-research relationships.

Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) Pending