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Schizophrenia Research Forum: Researcher Profile - C. Anthony Altar
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Researcher Profile - C. Anthony Altar

First Name:C. Anthony
Last Name:Altar
Advanced Degrees:Ph. D.
Affiliation:Blanchette Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute
Department:Alzheimer's Diagnostic Laboratory
Street Address 1:9601 Medical Center Drive
Zip/Postal Code:20850
Phone:301 294-7182
Email Address:
(view policy) 
Member reports no financial or other potential conflicts of interest. [Last Modified: 10 January 2010]
View all comments by C. Anthony Altar
Clinical Interests:
Neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., 22q11 deletion syndromes), neuropharmacology, Psychology, Bipolar disorder , Schizophrenia, Depression
Research Focus:
Animal models, Brain imaging, Cell biology, Neuroanatomy/Systems Neuroscience, Neuropathology, DNA microrrays, Neurotransmission, Pharmacology, psychiatry
Work Sector(s):
Research institute, Industry
Reasearcher Bio
C. Anthony Altar, Ph. D.

Dr. Altar received his Bachelor and Ph.D. degrees with honors in psychobiology from the University of California at Los Angeles and UC Santa Barbara, respectively. As a post-doctoral scientist at UC Irvine, Dr. Altar pioneered image analysis of receptor-drug binding in brain, and created digital subtraction autoradiography to produce quantitative maps of receptors labeled by antipsychotic drugs. His work at Ciba-Geigy identified the serotonin/dopamine receptor binding profile of atypical antipsychotics, known as the SDA concept. His research at Genentech and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals supported clinical trials for nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in diabetic neuropathy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

As director for global neuroscience at Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Dr. Altar managed the United States and Japan neuroscience teams, and helped manage the Otsuka-BMS collaboration that produced an FDA approval for the antipsychotic drug, aripiprazole (Abilify). As chief scientific officer and president of Psychiatric Genomics, Inc., in Gaithersburg, Md., he was responsible for the discovery of genomic alterations in the brains of psychiatric cases, and the synthesis and characterization of novel compounds for schizophrenia and bipolar disease.

As director of The Biomarkers Consortium in the Foundation for the NIH, Dr. Altar provided support for teams in the cancer, neuroscience, metabolic disorders, inflammation and immunity, and other disease-related areas, and promoted consortium relationships with for-profit, government, and non-profit organizations.

Presently I have established and lead a laboratory to commercialize a clinical diagnostic assay for Alzheimer’s disease based on intracellular responses of cultured human fibroblasts. Responsible for strategy and laboratory operation by Ph.D. and BS/MS staff, and preclinical and clinical studies in collaboration with Inverness Medical Innovations, Inc.

Top Papers
Altar CA, O'Neil S, Walter RJ, Jr., Marshall JF (1985) Brain dopamine and serotonin receptor sites revealed by digital subtraction autoradiography. Science 228:597-600.

Altar CA, Wasley AM, Neale RF, Stone GA (1986) Typical and atypical antipsychotic occupancy of D2 and S2 receptors: an autoradiographic analysis in rat brain. Brain Res Bull 16:517-525.

Altar CA, Wasley AM, Liebman J, Gerhardt S, Kim H, Welch JJ, Wood PL (1986) CGS 10746B: an atypical antipsychotic candidate that selectively decreases dopamine release at behaviorally effective doses. Life Sci 39:699-705.

Altar CA, Marien MR (1989) Preservation of dopamine release in the denervated striatum. Neurosci Lett 96:329-334.

Altar CA, Burton LE, Bennett GL, Dugich-Djordjevic M (1991) Recombinant human nerve growth factor is biologically active and labels novel high-affinity binding sites in rat brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 88:281-285

Altar CA, Boylan CB, Fritsche M, Jones BE, Jackson C, Wiegand SJ, Lindsay RM, Hyman C (1994) Efficacy of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-3 on neurochemical and behavioral deficits associated with partial nigrostriatal dopamine lesions. J Neurochem 63:1021-1032.

Mamounas LA, Blue ME, Siuciak JA, Altar CA (1995) Brain-derived neurotrophic factor promotes the survival and sprouting of serotonergic axons in rat brain. J Neurosci 15:7929-7939.

Altar CA, Cai N, Bliven T, Juhasz M, Conner JM, Acheson AL, Lindsay RM, Wiegand SJ (1997) Anterograde transport of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its role in the brain. Nature 389:856-860.

Altar CA (1999) Neurotrophins and depression. Trends Pharmacol Sci 20:59-61.

Jordan S, Koprivica V, Chen R, Tottori K, Kikuchi T, Altar CA (2002) The antipsychotic aripiprazole is a potent, partial agonist at the human 5-HT1A receptor. Eur J Pharmacol 441:137-140.

Altar CA, Martin A, Thurkauf A (2003) "Antipsychotic Agents". In: Burger's Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery, 6th Edition, pp 497-575.

Altar CA, Laeng P, Jurata LW, Brockman JA, Lemire A, Bullard J, Bukhman YV, Young TA, Charles V, Palfreyman MG (2004) Electroconvulsive seizures regulate gene expression of distinct neurotrophic signaling pathways. J Neurosci 24:2667-2677.

Altar, C A, Jurata, L W, Charles, V, Lemire, A, Liu, P, Bukhman, Y, Young, T A, Bullard, J, Yokoe, H, Webster, M B, Knable, M B, Brockman, J A (2005) Deficient expression of proteasome, ubiquitin, and mitochondrial genes in hippocampal neurons of multiple schizophrenia cohorts. Biol. Psychiatry 58: 85-96.

Altar, C. A., Hunt, R.A., Jurata, L. W., Webster, M.J., Derby, E., Gallagher, P., Lemire, A., Brockman, J., and Laeng, P. Insulin, IGF-1, and muscarinic agonists modulate schizophrenia-associated genes in human neuroblastoma cells. Biol. Psychiatry. (In Press).

125. Altar, C. A., Vawter, M., and Ginsberg, S. D. (2008) Target identification for central nervous system diseases by transcriptional profiling. Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews, Invited review (In press).
If resources were not limited, what research projects would you pursue?
Response of lymphocytes from controls and schizophrenic patients cultured briefly and challenged with insulin or IGF-1 or IGF-2 +/- muscarinic agonists and assessed by our 16 gene schziophrenia miniarray (Altar et al, in press).
What is your leading hypothesis?
Metabolic deficiency due to deficit in insulin/IGF-1 signaling to brain neurons.
What piece of missing evidence would help prove it?
In vivo studies of role of insulin/IGF-1 on gene expression and related changes in the metabolic pathway of target neurons, such as hippocampal dentate granule neurons.
What is your fallback position?
Rely on drugs that are efficacious in treating schizohrenia and better understanding their mechanisms, similar to what we did in 1985 to discover the SDA hypothesis (Altar et al, 1986).

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