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Mannheim Center for Translational Neuroscience

The Mannheim Center for Translational Neuroscience (MCTN) at Heidelberg University provides a platform for basic research-oriented, translational and clinical neuroscientists from the Medical Faculty Mannheim to work closely with the Central Institute for Mental Health, the life science research institutions of the University Heidelberg and with the non-university research institutions in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan area.


PerPain: New research consortium to improve treatment response of chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders through a personalized therapy approach
6th August 2020

With a budget of approx. 2,100,000€, the BMBF funds the new research consortium “Improving outcomes in chronic musculoskeletal pain through a personalized medicine approach using cross-illness multilevel assessments and mechanism-based interventions” that involves two groups at the Central Institute of Mental Health represented by the Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience (Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Herta Flor and Dr. Martin Löffler as co-investigator) and the Department of Public Mental Health (Prof. Dr. Ulrich Reininghaus). The consortium also involves the Department of General Internal Medicine and Psychosomatics at the Heidelberg University Hospital with the coordinator Prof. Dr. med. Jonas Tesarz. The Department Data Analysis and Modeling in Medicine, Mannheim Institute for Intelligent Systems in Medicine, Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University (Prof. Dr. Jürgen Hesser) and the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Trials, University Medical Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg‐University Mainz (Dr. Michael Hopp) are also involved.

The overarching goal of this research consortium is to identify psychobiological subgroups of chronic pain patients who show specific profiles of pain chronicity and to assign them to tailored mechanism-based treatment options in order to improve treatment response in general. By merging existing databases, a stratification tool for comprehensive phenotyping of patients with chronic pain will be developed and refined in a large study cohort of more than 300 patients. In a randomized pilot study the feasibility, safety and effectiveness of personalized pain therapy will be investigated. In a machine learning approach, the underlying mechanisms of the development and treatment of chronic pain will be assessed using innovative ecological momentary assessment, psycho-physiological profiles, brain imaging data, and biomarkers.

The interdisciplinary consortium allows to investigate the underlying mechanisms of chronic pain, to develop clinical decision- and therapy allocation-trees, and to contribute to an improvement of efficacy and cost-effectiveness of chronic pain treatment by personalized treatment allocation.

Losing and Regaining Control over Drug Intake
6th August 2020

The German Research Foundation (DFG) funded the Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio 265 Losing and Regaining Control over Drug Intake: From Trajectories to Mechanisms to Interventions. The project aims to better understand, which mechanisms are responsible for people losing control over drug use. Therapies should be developed on this basis. The CIMH cooperates with the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Technische Universität Dresden, among others.

Psychophysics of Functional Neurological Symptoms and the Role of Emotional Regulation in their Development
6th August 2020

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project “Psychophysics of Functional Neurological Symptoms and the Role of Emotional Regulation in their Development”. The project is a cooperation of CIMH and UMM, led by Dr. Inga Niedtfeld and Dr. Valentin Held. Since functional neurological disorders affect an interface between neurology and psychology, this research project will investigate psychological mechanisms (emotion regulation) using experimental methods as well as classical neurological testing procedures (quantitative sensory testing, QST).

MCTN´s inaugural meeting
3rd July 2020

The MCTN's mission is to facilitate interaction and translation in neuroscience in Mannheim. To this end, the MCTN's inaugural meeting was held on Friday 3rd July 2020 in the Alte Brauerei in Mannheim, where the members of the MCTN and the focus area Translational Neurosciences discussed future goals and the establishment of the MCTN.

Latest publications with MCTN affiliation

Chronic pain is neglected in mitochondrial disases

The CIMH researcher Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Herta Flor, PD Dr. Susanne Becker, and Dr. Martin Löffler showed that chronic pain is a prevalent but neglected core symptom in mitochondrial diseases. Mitochondrial diseases are clinically very heterogenous. Although occasionally reported, pain has not been included in the core symptoms of mitochondrial diseases. The researchers could show that up to 91% of patients report chronic pain of which pain-related interferences and distress were comparable to patients with chronic back pain. Further, the pain was related to impaired quality of life and depressive symptoms. The study suggests that pain is a greatly underestimated problem in mitochondrial diseases.

Löffler, M., Gamroth, C., Becker, S.*, & Flor, H*. (2020). Chronic pain as a neglected core symptom in mitochondrial diseases. Neurology, 94(8), 357-359. (*contributed equally)

A systematic review of daily life studies on non-suicidal self-injury based on the four-function model

CIMH-Researchers Dr. Johanna Hepp, Prof. Christian Schmahl and Dr. Inga Niedtfeld and colleges review 35 Ambulatory Assessment studies on functions of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). They report that eight studies partially supported negative intrapersonal reinforcement, showing increased negative affect pre NSSI, but, of these, only four studies supported decreased negative affect post NSSI. Additionally, only three studies supported positive intrapersonal reinforcement, showing decreased positive affect pre and increased positive affect post NSSI. Evidence for interpersonal functions was limited to two studies and inconclusive. The authors highlight that few studies reported details on the phenomenology and daily life context of Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) acts, and recommend a more consistent assessment of the intended function, frequency, severity, and associated pain of NSSI in future studies.

Hepp J, Carpenter RW, Störkel LM, Schmitz SE, Schmahl C, Niedtfeld I (in press). A systematic review of daily life studies on non-suicidal self-injury based on the Four-function Model. Clinical Psychological Science.

Endocannabinoid LTD in Accumbal D1 Neurons Mediates Reward-Seeking Behavior

CIMH-Researcher Prof. Rainer Spanagel and colleges showed that a specific form of synaptic striatal plasticity – endocannabinoid-dependent long-term depression (LTD) - mediates craving responses for natural rewards and drug rewards. Acute drug administration stops craving for alternative rewards on following days. This is a finding with clinical implications, as it would suggest that acute forced drug administration abolishes craving for an alternative reinforcer on subsequent days. This observation deserves closer investigations, especially in relevance for human drug-taking behavior.

Endocannabinoid LTD in Accumbal D1 Neurons Mediates Reward-Seeking Behavior.
Bilbao A, et al. iScience. 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.100951

[Pruritus-a long journey from neurophysiology to the clinic].
Schmelz M.Hautarzt. 2020 Jul;71(7):487-492. doi: 10.1007/s00105-020-04614-2.PMID: 32468292 Review. German.

Glioblastoma in Adults: A Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) and European Society of Neuro-Oncology (EANO) Consensus Review on Current Management and Future Directions.
Wen PY, Weller M, Lee EQ, Alexander BA, Barnholtz-Sloan JS, Barthel FP, Batchelor TT, Bindra RS, Chang SM, Chiocca EA, Cloughesy TF, DeGroot JF, Galanis E, Gilbert MR, Hegi ME, Horbinski C, Huang RY, Lassman AB, Le Rhun E, Lim M, Mehta MP, Mellinghoff IK, Minniti G, Nathanson D, Platten M, Preusser M, Roth P, Sanson M, Schiff D, Short SC, Taphoorn MJB, Tonn JC, Tsang J, Verhaak RGW, von Deimling A, Wick W, Zadeh G, Reardon DA, Aldape KD, van den Bent MJ. Neuro Oncol. 2020 Apr 24:noaa106. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noaa106. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32328653

Early gamma-oscillations as correlate of localized nociceptive processing in primary sensorimotor cortex.
Heid C, Mouraux A, Treede RD, Schuh-Hofer S, Rupp A, Baumgärtner U. J Neurophysiol. 2020 May 1;123(5):1711-1726. doi: 10.1152/jn.00444.2019. Epub 2020 Mar 25. PMID: 32208893

Heterogeneity of response to immune checkpoint blockade in hypermutated experimental gliomas.
Aslan K, Turco V, Blobner J, Sonner JK, Liuzzi AR, Núñez NG, De Feo D, Kickingereder P, Fischer M, Green E, Sadik A, Friedrich M, Sanghvi K, Kilian M, Cichon F, Wolf L, Jähne K, von Landenberg A, Bunse L, Sahm F, Schrimpf D, Meyer J, Alexander A, Brugnara G, Röth R, Pfleiderer K, Niesler B, von Deimling A, Opitz C, Breckwoldt MO, Heiland S, Bendszus M, Wick W, Becher B, Platten M. Nat Commun. 2020 Feb 18;11(1):931. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14642-0. PMID: 32071302 Free PMC article.

Challenges of neuropathic pain: focus on diabetic neuropathy.
Rosenberger DC, Blechschmidt V, Timmerman H, Wolff A, Treede RD. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2020 Apr;127(4):589-624. doi: 10.1007/s00702-020-02145-7. Epub 2020 Feb 8. PMID: 32036431 Free PMC article. Review.

The capsaicin receptor TRPV1 is the first line defense protecting from acute non damaging heat: a translational approach.
Rosenberger DC, Binzen U, Treede RD, Greffrath W. J Transl Med. 2020 Jan 17;18(1):28. doi: 10.1186/s12967-019-02200-2. PMID: 31952468 Free PMC article.