Dr Sabine Bahn

Recent funding of over $5 million to Dr Sabine Bahn by the Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) raises diagnostic and therapeutic hopes for a group of psychiatric diseases that affects 2% of the population.

With the new funding, we believe that all the ingredients are in place to successfully translate high-quality research into high-value clinical advances.

Dr Sabine Bahn

Dr Sabine Bahn’s dynamic and growing research group within the newly established Centre for Neuropsychiatric Research (CCNR) in the Institute of Biotechnology has been progressing towards a greater understanding of the molecular processes that lead to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Current estimates suggest that 1 in 50 people in the UK are affected, many of whom are incapacitated by these disorders.

Dr Bahn, a psychiatrist and molecular biologist, aims to develop a means to diagnose and treat patients at an early stage of the disease. ‘Current diagnostic methods have remained unchanged for over a century and rely on a subjective, interview-style analysis of the patient by the medical practitioner rather than a diagnostic test. Following diagnosis, some patients show no improvement with current drug regimes,’ explained Dr Bahn.

The substantial support given to Dr Bahn by the SMRI is made possible through the philanthropy of Americans Theodore and Vada Stanley. With previous SMRI funding of $3.5 million, Dr Bahn’s group completed an intensive study of over 150 post-mortem brains, looking for differences between patients and matched controls. They successfully identified ‘disease gene signatures’ and the first strong biomarkers for schizophrenia in easily testable fluids like serum and cerebrospinal fluid. The further funding of $5 million allows Dr Bahn to build on these successes with her team of neuroscientists, molecular biologists, mathematicians, statisticians and bioinformaticists.

Dr Bahn’s group works closely with Psynova Neurotech Ltd, the spin-out company she founded in 2005 with Professor Chris Lowe with SMRI support. Psynova is developing and exploiting the novel biomarkers discovered by Dr Bahn, as well as initiating its own drug discovery programmes using proprietary biomarkers. In June 2007, Psynova was awarded the Medical Futures Innovation Award in Mental Health and Neurosciences Innovation.

‘With the new funding, we believe that all the ingredients are in place to successfully translate high-quality research into high-value clinical advances,’ said Dr Bahn. ‘Using the latest biotechnological advances, we hope that this seamless interface will link fundamental research at the bench directly with the patient bedside.’

For more information, please contact Dr Sabine Bahn (s.bahn@biotech.cam.ac.uk). For investment opportunities relating to Psynova Neurotech Ltd, please contact Cambridge Enterprise Ltd (Tel: +44 (0)1223 760339).


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