Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded $1.4 million from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the development of drug candidates for a wide range of conditions, including circadian rhythm disorders.

Patrick R. Griffin, chair of the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at Scripps Florida, and Theodore Kamenecka, a TRSI associate professor, will be the principal investigators of the new 3-year grant.

The project involves what are known as RORs (retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptors), a class of molecules that plays a role in the expression of genes involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, inflammation, and circadian rhythm. Disruptions in circadian rhythm have been associated with depression, bipolar disease, and schizophrenia.

“While the functions of other ROR receptors have been widely studied, little is known about RORbeta,” Griffin says in a release. “The new grant will allow us to expand and improve our experimental compounds to study RORbeta function in depth. This line of research should increase our understanding of this receptor as well as circadian rhythm and related disorders.”

While not specifically aimed at producing drug candidates, Griffin says, the new research will include studies of the new optimized compounds in experimental models of a range of diseases.

The number of the grant is 1R01MH108173.