The Synaptic Bases of Mental Diseases

SIRS Outstanding Basic Science Award 2017-2018 to Kim Do

Kim Do Receiving the SIRS award

Prof. Kim Do Cuénod, Head of the Psychiatric Neuroscience Center (CNP-CHUV), has been awarded with the SIRS Outstanding Basic Science Award 2017-2018 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to schizophrenia research.

A pioneer in translational psychiatry research

Kim Do Cuénod has developed a multidisciplinary and translational approach to promote collaboration between neurobiology researchers and clinicians. Her research is focused on a better understanding of the causes and mechanisms of schizophrenia, in order to identify early diagnosis markers and new therapeutic and preventive targets.

Her pioneering work “bench to bed” – from laboratory to bedside – allowed her to demonstrate that oxidative stress (imbalance between oxidations and reductions) in interaction with the NMDA receptor hypofunction, neuroinflammation and deregulation of the dopaminergic system represents a “hub” on which genetic and environmental risk factors converge; these mechanisms lead to an alteration of neuronal connectivity and synchronization as well as to cognitive impairments as observed in patients.

Using various experimental models related to schizophrenia and autism, her group has shown that oxidative stress during brain development damages the formation of myelin and selectively and permanently affects a specific type of neuron. These abnormalities can be corrected or prevented by the application of antioxidants substances such as N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC).

On the basis of these data, Kim Do Cuénod carried out two clinical studies in collaboration with Prof. Philippe Conus (Department of General Psychiatry, CHUV). They have highlighted that the application of NAC improves negative symptoms, auditory responses and neuronal synchronization in chronic patients.

In young patients at the beginning of the disease, it raises the brain level of glutathione (antioxidant produced by the human body), improves the positive symptoms of a subgroup of patients defined by blood markers as well as the integrity of nerve fibers and certain cognitive functions.

The translational approach developed by Kim Do Cuénod, bridging the gap between basic neuroscience and psychiatric clinic, opens the way to innovative treatments and more targeted care for patients.

Author : Sarah Iachini, CHUV 
Translation: Tania Secalin

The mission of the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) is to bring researchers from across the world in schizophrenia and other related disorders together to exchange the latest advances in research and facilitate the applications and these findings to clinical practice, facilitate communication and collaboration in research and promote the highest scientific and ethical standards in research and its application in clinical psychiatric practice.

The Outstanding Basic Science Award is awarded every 2 years in recognition of an outstanding clinical/community contribution to schizophrenia research. This contribution may be preclinical or work which emphasizes the interface between basic and clinical research. The selection of the award recipient is based on the quality of the contribution(s) and its impact in advancing schizophrenia research.

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