Brain Health & Brain Diseases - Future Perspectives
We know that a single human gene mutation may present itself with any of multiple phenotypes and vice versa, that a range of genetic abnormalities may cause a single disease phenotype. Thus, a deeper understanding is needed of the way changes at one spatial or temporal level of brain organisation integrate and translate into others. The traditional approach to determining diagnosis - eliciting symptoms and signs, identifying clusters of similar inpiduals to define a disease primarily on those criteria - has not produced fundamental breakthroughs in understanding sequences of pathophysiological mechanisms that produce the repertoire of psychiatric and neurological diseases, nor in defining the range of normal variation.It is time to radically overhaul our epistemological approach to brain health and disease. Europe’s Human Brain Project proposes a medical informatics platform that capitalises on modern advances in information technology, from supercomputers to distributed and interactive databases, allied to new mathematics and statistics, to federate and integrate existing and future clinical and neuroscientific data for a more biologically based, mechanistic approach to brain disorders. The implications for drug discovery are more accurate, biologically supported diagnostics, new ways of identifying treatment targets, a priori profiling of primary and secondary effects of potential therapies in silico, a rethink about drug trial methodology and a route towards precision and personalised medicine.