MCI Program: New Animal Models and Pre-Clinical Screening Methodology For Psychiatric Drug Development

Project name: New animal models and pre-clinical screening methodology for psychiatric drug development


Principal researcher name: Prof. Gal Richter Levin


The Institute of Affective Neuroscience


Invention area: Medical biotech




Improved animal models developed in cooperation with pharma and biotech psychiatric drug development companies allowing improved predictability and shorter preclinical phase, resulting in increased success and quicker time to market.


The Need:


There is a great need for new drugs for psychiatric disorders. This is due to the fact that available drugs are mostly non specific and help, in the best cases, 40-50% of patients, all cause side effects, and many of the existing drugs (some blockbuster sellers) are coming close to their patent expiration.  Despite the great requirement for new drugs and novel treatments, particularly in the field of psychiatry, there is recognized difficulty in developing new drugs. This is a result of the complexity of the central nervous system and human behavior, the lack of defined pathology and clear classification system and the absence of adequate predictive animal models for preclinical drug screening.


Preclinical screening, at the earliest stages of discovery, and the valid animal models for early compound selection are mandatory to provide initial assessment of the functional effects of novel compounds for drug development.


The lack of predictive preclinical models and the lack of sufficiently complex screening methodologies are at the basis of the new service facility set up at Haifa University.


The Market:


Psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia are leading causes of disability worldwide, and have a huge social impact.


Despite the clear need for better therapies, and major advances in the understanding of the molecular basis of these disorders in recent years, efforts to discover and develop new drugs for neuropsychiatric disorders, have been relatively unsuccessful.


The psychiatric drug market was estimated to total $38.28 billion in 2007.


The top five psychiatric drug companies in 2007 accounted for 57.1% of the sector total.


Of all the major psychiatric indications, the depression and schizophrenia markets represent and will continue to represent the highest levels of unmet need. Drugs from the atypical antipsychotic and antidepressant classes, primarily indicated for these disorders, make up 9 of the top 10 psychiatric brands of 2007. The majority of these drugs are marketed by the five leading psychiatric drug companies.


The Brain and Behavior Laboratory offers:


  • Established novel and unique behavioral animal models for anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

  • A multidisciplinary approach for designing the preclinical models suitable to the most relevant symptoms of a specific disorder including classical electrophysiological parameters, behavioral parameters and unique data analysis methods.

  • Biochemical and electrophysiological measurements and analysis power.

  • Recognized committed scientific team with the relevant experience and expertise to develop and set up the relevant models in rodents