Systems Neuropharmacology


Francesc Artigas


The Systems Neuropharmacology group examines the brain circuits and neuronal elements involved in the physiopathology and treatment of major depression, schizophrenia and Parkinson disease. It also explores chemical neurotransmission processes and brain physiology in genetic and pharmacological models of mental illness, with a view to identifying new therapeutic targets. The group has largely contributed to elucidating the role of several serotonin receptors in the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs, which has helped to develop better treatments for major depression. Recent key findings are the involvement of thalamo-cortical circuits in the psychotomimetic action of the non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist phencyclidine (used as a pharmacological model of schizophrenia), which shows a preferential action on GABA neurons of the reticular nucleus of the thalamus.

In the field of depression, we evoked rapid and potent antidepressant effects with RNAi strategies, after the intranasal administration of conjugated siRNA (small interfering RNA) molecules. Moreover, we design new therapeutic strategies based on oligonucleotides for treatment of Parkinson disease. The group has a leading role in Neuropsychopharmacology and his PI received in 2015 the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award, the most prestigious European Award in the field.