The Psychiatry Research Group in the Marqués de Valdecilla Institute for Education and Research (IFIMAV) and the University of Cantabria (UC) will lead Spanish participation in the European PSYSCAN project which aims to make progress with the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of psychosis through the analysis of magnetic resonance (MRI) images.
The VII Program Framework PSYSCAN Project, which will begin in 2014, will have a length of six years and will receive 6-Million Euros, funded by the European Commission, although its cost is estimated at about 8 Million.
Spain will be represented in this project through CIBERSAM (Biomedical Network Research Centre in the Area of Mental Health, a consortium of the Carlos III Health Institute (which the IFMAV and the UC are part of) and which belongs the IFIMAV/UC Psychiatry Research Group. It is led by Benedicto Crespo-Facorro, who is also an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Cantabria. The mission of the Cantabrian group consists of developing new neuroimaging tools and checking their usefulness in the clinic.
The aim of this project is to establish a method of analysis of images of the central nervous system obtained by magnetic resonance imaging, which allows patients with psychosis (schizophrenia) to be classified, and thus implement more specific pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment criteria.
Although magnetic resonance imaging has always had great importance in the research of the biological bases of schizophrenia, no parameters have been established until now which contribute to decision-making in relation to the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of patients.
Thanks to this project, for which a large number of patients will be recruited, demographic, genetic, immunological, metabolic, cognitive and image characteristics will be able to be studied and will be able to be compared with those in healthy individuals.
The international project PSYSCAN will be led by King’s College London-Institute of Psychiatry (United Kingdom), together with the participation of 11 research centres , the universities of Cambridge, Utrecht, Edinburgh and Melbourne, among others, as well as private companies such as Roche, Lilly and Philips.
Valdecilla Psychiatry Research Group has been involved in the research of the biological bases of psychosis and the study of through neuroimaging of patients affected by schizophrenia since 2001 and has carried out several international collaborations with European and North American groups.
Participation in this project is a great opportunity to collaborate with the best European research groups in this area and to participate in the achievement of a clinical milestone, which means finding an objective tool and which through magnetic resonance, allows us to reach a diagnosis and help establish a more accurate prognosis in these patients.
The Group led by Benedicto Crespo-Facorro manages and directs the Neuroimaging Unit in the Marqués de Valdecilla Institute for Education and Research (IFIMAV), with which it aims to extend the application of neuroimaging techniques to other areas of biomedical research within the environment of the IFIMAV and the University of Cantabria.
The Neuroimaging Unit, recently incorporated in the IFIMAV technology support services, carries out a wide range of techniques in the quantitative analysis of the human brain, obtained through magnetic resonance. These techniques are available to the rest of the researchers in IFIMAV and Valdecilla, and also to external groups.
The analysis of magnetic resonance images allow us to obtain quantitative data on variables of interest, such as the volume of brain structures or areas, the thickness of the cortex, gyrification pattern, structure of white matter, pattern of activity..., all of which are very important for live knowledge in the brain and also for alterations in neurological and mental illnesses, so they constitute a fundamental tool in research of the brain and will be of great importance in the development of the Psyscan project.