To improve citizens’ mental health, today’s symptom-based diagnoses need to be complemented with biological criteria accounting for individual and sex differences.
The EU-funded Re-MEND project focuses on four critical life stages in which changes in endocrine signalling, including sex hormones, influence an individual’s susceptibility to mental illness: early life, puberty, the peripartum period, and transition into old age. The project will integrate data from extensive population-based longitudinal cohort studies to unveil risk and protective factors as well as biological patterns influencing mental states across these life stages. Moreover, it will combine epidemiological with experimental studies, and use advanced biostatistics, machine learning and AI for data integration and novel biomarker and drug target discoveries.
RE-MEND will combine the general population-based studies and clinical studies to define the genetic and environmental influences and underlying biological mechanisms on mental diseases as well as treatment responses in the context of endocrine states. For the resulting associations, correlative and causal relationships between risk and protective factors, molecular changes and mental states will be established in experimental settings.
Re-MEND will incorporate key experimental models to validate and provide context to the identified molecular relationships within the integrated clinical and epidemiological data. To extract as much biological knowledge as possible data integration, machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches will be applied throughout the project. They will be forming the basis for extracting information from already available and new data, and guiding novel data generation across the project for identifying those features with the highest translational capability and robustness in defining susceptibility and resilience, disease state, and potential new therapeutic targets.
Communication science approaches will be employed to develop tailored engagement activities and target-group-oriented communication strategies, focusing on increasing health literacy and decreasing stigma.
Re-MEND combines the biological approaches with communication science to efficiently translate its results to wider societal impact. Ultimately, RE-MEND will result in:
Title: Building Resilience against Mental illness during Endocrine-sensitive life stages (RE-MEND)
Project duration: 5 years (start date January 2023)
EU funding: EUR 10.4 million (the research and innovation programme Horizon Europe)
Coordinator: Uppsala University, Sweden
Consortium: 16 partner institutions