Miguel Castelo-Branco was awarded the FLAD/Life Science Award in 2016, with 300,000 euros of funding for three years. The merits of the work developed by the researcher from Coimbra University led FLAD to extend his prize for one more year, with a new round of financing worth 100,000 euros.

The work developed by Professor Miguel Castelo-Branco focuses on searching for new treatment options for autism patients, using a cross-disciplinary project, whose research goes from the laboratory, through animal models until it reaches the patient.

FLAD’s financial support to this promising project allowed the research to receive funding from European projects, including its integration into the largest international consortium, the AIMS-2-TRIALS, which includes patient associations, universities, clinics and stakeholders of the industry, to develop new treatment options for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

These new treatments may be applied through the use of new technologies, such as virtual reality, neurostimulation, and neurofeedback – to try to improve communication and socialization issues among autism patients.

The combination of different therapeutic strategies made way to two clinical trials with the intent of rehabilitating social cognition and communication deficits in autism patients and create a proof of concept in intervention studies with autism associations. The research not only investigated basic mechanisms for altering neuronal inhibition in animal and human models, in collaboration with Prof. Alcino Silva’s group of the University of California but also sought to relate these findings with proposals for therapeutic intervention in cognitive functions affected by this type of dysfunction.

To give relevance to this type of syndromes linked to autism, epilepsy, tuberous sclerosis, and type 1 neurofibromatosis is very important for patients quality of life, but also allows the discovery of new mechanisms to improve the therapeutic approach of these patients disorders. Another important aspect is to understand why autism affects more men than women. These issues will continue to be researched by the team led by Miguel Castelo-Branco during next year.

Listen here to Miguel Castelo-Branco’s interview with TSF.

Congratulations Miguel and keep up the great work!