Dr. Benicio Frey, Principal Investigator of the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) – one of OBI’s Integrated Discovery Programs – has been awarded $2.4 million by Brain Canada’s Platform Support Grant for the Enabling Neuroscience research Approaches for Brain, feeLings and Emotions (ENABLE) clinical platform. This investment follows OBI’s initial support of CAN-BIND for an earlier version of the ENABLE project.

According to a Brain Canada press release, ENABLE will provide neuroscientists and clinicians with a standardized method for collecting health data from individuals with a range of mood disorder symptoms. It will also keep track of participants who could be recruited into clinical trials.

By having more information on different biomarkers and quick access to potential candidates for clinical trials, scientists will be able to conduct studies to determine which mood disorder treatments are most effective for which patients, based on their own biology. This will increase the pace of biomarker research as well as reduce the time it takes to find the right treatment for each patient. “Most areas of medicine are able to use clinical tests, blood tests, or imaging to help diagnose and treat illnesses more effectively” said Dr. Frey. “The search for biomarkers in mood disorders is advancing, but a major roadblock to progress is the lack of large clinical trials that are needed to accurately validate biomarkers for mental disorders”.

This prestigious grant is awarded to teams that are creating or enhancing centralized shared resources to increase access to equipment, expertise, data and protocols across research networks. Dr. Frey’s funding application for ENABLE was unique in the sense that it included insights from the CAN-BIND Community Advisory Committee (CAC) – ensuring that patient priorities will be included in the design and conduct of the study.

“Funding applications have typically been written by researchers, without input from patients with lived/living experience.” says Kathryn Schade, co-author of the ENABLE funding application and a member of the CAC. “This approach has often led to research that reflects the interests and priorities of the researchers, rather than focusing on outcomes that are relevant and meaningful to patients.”

“My unique perspective helped to ensure that the ENABLE platform is patient-focused, with an emphasis on accelerating research discoveries and broadening access to effective treatments—research priorities that matter to patients and their families.”

This is an exciting step forward in OBI’s team science approach that sees the patient voice elevated in research, as well as the creation – and curation – of standardized datasets that will be eventually open and accessible to scientists across the globe to utilize within their pursuits of knowledge and discovery. Learn more