Parnassia Group & Maastricht University
H2020: New interventions for Non-Communicable Diseases
Mental disorders often have a major impact on daily life. It is estimated that in Europe approximately 165 million people suffer from a mental disorder, and that this number will increase over time. Common mental disorders include depression, schizophrenia and anxiety. In most cases, the disorder starts early in life, and life expectancy can be reduced by up to 20 years due to concomitant illness. Drug treatment is effective in only one third of patients.
Knowledge about the effects of mental disorders is lacking and the prescription of medication is based on a trial-and-error approach. There are a number of effective treatments, but due to (genetic) heterogeneity of patients and the many side effects, the effectiveness is limited. Psychiatrist and clinical pharmacologist Dr. Roos van Westrhenen of Parnassia Group/ Maastricht University wants to solve this problem and improve treatments.
Genotyping and medicines: pharmacogenetics
Pharmacogenetics is the study of the interaction between genes and drugs. Pharmacogenetic (PGx) tests determine a person’s genetic factors that can be used to predict response and side effects to medication. With this knowledge the effectiveness of treatments can be increased.
Realising research with the help of H2020
PSY-PGx is the first non-commercial, large-scale, international initiative to investigate this for mental disorders. The aim is to provide the best quality of care, to reduce personal suffering and to reduce the social burden of mental disorders. To achieve this, a clinical study with psychiatric patients will be carried out. The result will be a new algorithm that helps to find the right medication and the right dose for each individual patient.
With the help of an Horizon 2020 (H2020) subsidy of € 8 million, Dr. Roos van Westrhenen will be able to realise this research in collaboration with organisations in both Europe and America. Hezelburcht has supported with applying for this H20202 grant. Dr. Roos van Westrhenen explains how she has experienced this collaboration:
Hezelburcht was involved in the final stage of my H2020 application. The specialists were very open and read through the application several times from a bird’s eye view. They also gave global advice on the readability and comprehensibility of the application, which enabled me to continue working on my application. Hezelburcht also took care of the administration related to matters such as the correct partner details, deliverables and milestones. This also allowed me to focus on figuring out and writing out the rest of the application. - Dr. Roos van Westrhenen
Result: better treatment of psychological disorders
Dr. van Westrhenen’s research contributes to determining whether the treatment of a mental disorder can be adapted to the DNA profile of the patient. This will reduce suffering for the individual patient and speed up recovery. This solution will make a difference for millions of patients!
We wish Dr. van Westrhenen and the rest of the consortium success with the continuation of the research!