Feature Sep 20, 2021

Lundbeck to use new technology that can photograph neurons in the brain

With new technology, Lundbeck will in partnership with California-based Inscopix use a camera to film neurons in the brain. The collaboration will focus on developing a map of the brain that can speed up drug development.

In a first-of-its kind collaboration, Lundbeck and Inscopix are partnering up to develop quantitative, brain circuit-based preclinical assays to accelerate therapeutic development for brain diseases.

 

The brain remains one of the biggest medical mysteries and scientists around the world struggle with finding ways to develop treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Depression, and schizophrenia. With the partnership, Lundbeck and Inscopix hope to take one step toward solving the remaining mysteries. A key element in the partnership is a miniature microscope that can map the brain and film or photograph brain activity on a neuronal level. The research collaboration has been jointly developed by the R&D teams at Inscopix in the US and Lundbeck in Denmark and will use compounds from Lundbeck. 

In this project, we will try to map the brain on a neuronal level. We will try to understand, what happens where in the brain and how different neurons, molecules, and substances interact with each other on a very detailed level. You can call it a family portrait of the brain, that we can use in future projects. Benjamin Hall, Director in Circuit Biology at Lundbeck.

The miniature microscope and associated data analytics will be used for assessing target engagement, pharmacodynamics, and efficacy of compounds that Lundbeck is developing for the treatment of neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders. The technology is still new, and it is too early to say what the possibilities are.

 

“We are always assessing new methods to accelerate our research and development. With the ability to actually film brain activity on neuronal level I think we are exploring an interesting opportunity to gain new knowledge,” says Benjamin Hall. “The miniature microscope can depicture neurons in the brain, thereby showing where compounds interact and how they affect the brain. This has the potential to accelerate the development of treatments within brain disorders”.

Facts: What is a neuron?

A neuron is a cell that is described as the basic working unit of the brain. Neurons communicate with each other by transmitting information from one cell to another.1 The human brain consists of several billion neurons – some scientists even suggest that the human brain has more neurons than there are stars in the universe.2

Brain activity is happening when neurons transmit information to each other; Everything from running a sprint, daydreaming, or having a conversation includes neuronal activity.  

Malfunctions in the communication between neurons is believed to play a role in diseases such as schizophrenia.3

  1.  The Neuron (brainfacts.org)
  2. Are There Really as Many Neurons in the Human Brain as Stars in the Milky Way? | Brain Metrics | Learn Science at Scitable (nature.com)
  3.  Dysfunction of Glia-Neuron Communication in Pathophysiology of Schizophrenia | Bentham Science (eurekaselect.com)