Trio receive grants to study bipolar disorder

By Aaron Zapata, Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Brain Stock Image - Bipolar Disorder Grants

Three faculty from the Louis A. Faillace, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences received grants to study bipolar disorder. (Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock)

Louis A. Faillace, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences faculty Jair Soares, MD, PhD; Rodrigo Machado-Vieira, MD, PhD; and Gabriel Fries, PhD, have received grants from the Baszucki Brain Research Fund, partnering with the Milken Institute, aimed at funding innovative research.

The Center for Strategic Philanthropy at the Milken Institute collaborated with the Baszucki Brain Research Fund to advance therapeutic discoveries for bipolar disorder. The program looks to fund innovative clinical research with the potential to improve treatment options to treat patients with bipolar disorder.

In all, a total of 45 grants were awarded, totaling $2 million in funding.

Dr. Jair Soares
Jair Soares, MD, PhD

Bipolar disorder affects 2.3 million Americans, and nearly 45 million worldwide, according to the Milken Institute. The condition is characterized by disruptive recurrences of mania and depression that may last for weeks, months or even years. Bipolar disorder can lead to the loss of employment, strained relationships, suicide, and the feeling of powerlessness over one’s daily routines and behavior, according to the Milken Institute.

Soares, professor and Pat R. Rutherford, Jr. Chair in Psychiatry, received a $200,000 grant for his project is titled “Developing Brain Imaging Analysis Expertise for Personalizing Transcranial Electric Stimulation in Anhedonia Treatment of Patients with Bipolar Depression.” Marsal Sanches, MD, PhD, and Alexandre Paim Diaz, MD, PhD, are co-investigators on the project.

Dr. Rodrigo Machado-Vieira
Rodrigo Machado-Vieira, MD, PhD

Soares’ project will investigate whether transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) engages reward-related brain circuitry in patients with bipolar depression and whether this engagement is correlated with changes in measures of anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure.

Machado-Vieira, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, received a $200,000 grant for his project titled “A Randomized, Placebo Controlled Trial of the Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Inhibitor Palmitoylethanolamide in Bipolar Depression.”

His double-blind, placebo-controlled, six-week study will evaluate the antidepressant efficacy of the Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) in Bipolar Depression and the association between antidepressant response with endogenous cannabinoids and cytokine levels (ECs — PEA, AEA, 2-AG, OEA; Cytokines– TNF, IL2,4,6,10,12).

Dr. Gabriel Fries
Gabriel Fries, PhD

Fries received a $200,000 grant for his project is titled “Targeting Accelerated Aging in Bipolar Disorder: Calorie Restriction Mimetics as a Novel Treatment Strategy.”

The project will investigate the biological basis of accelerated aging in bipolar disorder by investigating clinical datasets and cellular models of bipolar disorder. Specifically, the investigators will explore the potential protective role of “calorie restriction mimetics” (CRMs) in cells from patients, which are novel drugs suggested to expand lifespan by modulating metabolic pathways in animals and humans.