Project title: Targeting Astrocytes in the Brain as Potential targets for Antidepressant Development

Highlights: This 2-years funding will allow the discovery of the underlying mechanisms involved in the astroglial pathology associated with depression and the identification of new targets for the development of new, more effective antidepressant treatments.

Synopsis: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a devastating illness affecting more than four per cent of Canadians and a leading cause of disability worldwide. However, current treatments provide little benefit to about 50 % of patients with MDD. One major setback to developing effective treatments is our limited understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved. We do know that astrocytes make up about 40 % of all brain cells, and that they play many critical roles in healthy brain functioning. However, astrocyte anomalies are reported in MDD as well as other psychiatric illnesses and neurogenerative diseases. By studying the functioning of astrocyte pathology, we will learn more about the role of astrocytic pathologies in MDD and stress-related illnesses. The goal of studies is to develop and validate new treatment strategies centered on targeting astrocytes for antidepressant treatment.