Dr. Helene Fachim

Lead Scientist

R&D in Clinical Trials

Dr Helene Fachim is a scientist with extensive experience in behavioral neuroscience, mental disorders and diabetes, with expertise in genetics and epigenetics. She has been working over 15 years on the investigation of new pharmacological targets and biomarkers using both human samples (post-mortem brain and peripheral blood) in parallel with different animal models that mimic brain disorders or common physiological events to Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and epilepsy. She has multiple papers published in peer review journals in neuroscience, particularly involving epigenetic targets. She has worked previously at Sheffield Hallam University and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust as a research scientist. She has MSc and PhD in Psychobiology from The University of Sao Paulo-Brazil and currently an honorary position as research associate at University of Manchester.

The relationship of childhood trauma and DNA methylation of NMDA receptor genes in first-episode schizophrenia

Dr. Helene Fachim et al’s publication in the journal Epigenomic, shows a link between childhood trauma and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia results from a combination of genetic and environmental influences. We investigated how some changes in genes can be silenced by a process named DNA methylation and may be linked to schizophrenia. For this reason, we hypothesized that childhood trauma, an environmental risk factor, would be associated with DNA methylation in schizophrenia patients compared with their unaffected siblings and controls. Our research has shown that altered blood DNA methylation of one candidate gene for psychiatric disorders may be associated with childhood trauma in the unaffected siblings of schizophrenia patients, but not in frank schizophrenia or controls. We believe that this gene plays an important role in helping identify vulnerable as well as resilient individuals to schizophrenia disorder.

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Relationship between the Plasma Proteome and Changes in Inflammatory Markers after Bariatric Surgery

Dr. Helene Fachim is first author on the ‘Relationship between the Plasma Proteome and Changes in Inflammatory Markers after Bariatric Surgery’ in the journal CELL. Severe obesity is a disease associated with multiple adverse effects on health. Metabolic bariatric surgery (MBS) can have significant effects on multiple body systems and was shown to improve inflammatory markers in previous short-term follow-up studies. We evaluated associations between changes in inflammatory markers (CRP, IL6 and TNFα) and circulating proteins after MBS.

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Parvalbumin promoter hypermethylation in postmortem brain in schizophrenia

Dr. Helene Fachim is first author on the ‘Parvalbumin promoter hypermethylation in postmortem brain in schizophrenia’ in the journal Epigenomics. Deficits of brain parvalbumin (PV) are a consistent finding in schizophrenia and models of psychosis. We investigated whether this is associated with abnormal PV gene (PVALB) methylation in the brain in schizophrenia. Bisulfite pyrosequencing was used to determine cytosine (CpG) methylation in a PVALB promoter sequence. Greater PVALB methylation was found in schizophrenia hippocampus, while no differences were observed in prefrontal cortex. LINE-1 methylation, a measure of global methylation, was also elevated in both regions in schizophrenia, although the PVALB change was independent of this effect. These results provide the first evidence that PVALB promoter methylation is abnormal in schizophrenia and suggest that this epigenetic finding may relate to the reduction of PV expression seen in the disease.

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