Translational investigation of a lithium mimetic on emotional and cognitive processing in healthy volunteers

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Pharmacology


Bipolar disorder disease is a chronic illness characterized by recurrent episodes of aberrant mood that affects around 3% of the world's population. Current therapies for bipolar disorder such as lithium, valproic acid and atypical antipsychotics, such as seroquel, cause serious side effects including liver and kidney damage. There is therefore an urgent need for new therapies that allow long-term mood stabilisation in patients, but are more favourably tolerable. In this project, we propose to confirm the suitability of a known antioxidant that has proven to be safe in humans as a lithium replacement candidate. Our drug inhibits the enzyme inositol monophosphatase, a candidate therapeutic target of lithium and also alters mood and behaviour in animals in a manner similar to lithium. This drug, if successful therefore, would offer for the first time, the potential for physicians to treat bipolar patients without exposing them to harmful side effects.


10 25 50
Title Treatment of bipolar disorder 
Description Based on our results from BBSRC Follow-on Funding, we have been granted a patent for the use of ebselen to treat bipolar disorder in both European and World-wide areas. Our tech transfer branch of Oxford University has been in discussions with about 20 big pharma and biotech companies and will take this forward as soon as we analyze the results form our current studies, which are also funded by with Follow-on Funding. Publication number EP2673048 A2 Publication type Application Application number EP20120706085 Publication date Dec 18, 2013 Filing date Jan 18, 2012 Priority date Feb 9, 2011 Also published as WO2012107735A2, WO2012107735A3 Inventors Grant C. CHURCHILL, Sridhar R. VASUDEVAN, Nisha SINGH Applicant Isis Innovation Limited 
IP Reference WO2012107735 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2014
Licensed Yes
Impact It has fostered collaborative research on the drug ebselen. Funding (£1.4 M) from the MRC was secured for a study of impulsiveness in both a rat model and this will be translated into humans in an experimental medicine study. Funding from a Bipolar and Schizophrenia charity in the US called The Stanley Foundation has awarded ~£800,000 to fund a Phase 2, investigator-led efficacy trial for ebselen in bipolar disorder in Oxford. An American biotech company, Sound Pharmaceuticals, has taken a 3-year option on the license of the patent for ebselen and is funding the investigator-led clinical trial to the tune of about £500,000.