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Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders

DevelRx’s consultants have more than 30 years experience in pharmaceutical R&D that include leadership roles for CNS programs at Boots Pharmaceuticals and BASF Pharma. David Heal co-founded and directed a non-clinical contract research company that supported successful development and registration of new drugs for the treatment of severe psychiatric and neurological conditions including opiate-withdrawal, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Our work has included original research into the neurochemical pathways underlying CNS disorders and the development of in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo screening strategies and animal models to evaluate the mode of action, efficacy and side effect profile of novel drugs to treat CNS disorders. Our research interests include the pharmacology of drug addiction and the design and validation of cutting-edge models to identify new treatments for a range of substance use disorders.

With exemplary track records in academia and industry, our internationally-recognised experts can advise on all aspects of CNS R&D from early non-clinical research, non-clinical and clinical development, drug registration and Phase IV marketing.

Examples of our work in this area are given below.

Edited Books and Special Issues

Heal DJ, Smith SL, Henningfield J. Special Issue of Neuropharmacology - “CNS Stimulants”, 2014.

Elliott JM, Heal DJ, Marsden CA. “Experimental Approaches to Anxiety and Depression”. John Wiley, Chichester, 1992.

Marsden CA, Heal DJ. “Central Serotonin Receptors and Psychotropic Drugs” Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, 1992.

Heal DJ, Marsden CA. “The Pharmacology of Noradrenaline in the Central Nervous System”. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1990.

Scientific Articles

Morrison FG, Van Orden LJ, Zeitz K, Kuijer EJ, Smith SL, Heal DJ, Wallace TL. Navacaprant, a novel and selective kappa opioid receptor antagonist, has no agonist properties implicated in opioid-related abuse. Neuropharmacol, 2024; 257: 110037. doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2024.110037. Read more…

Stanford SC, Heal DJ. Adrenoceptors: A focus on psychiatric disorders and their treatments. Handb Exp Pharmacol, 2023; Epub 2023 Jul 27. doi: 10.1007/164_2023_675. Read more…

Palandri J, Smith SL, Heal DJ, Wonnacott S, Baily CP. Contrasting effects of the α7 nicotinic receptor antagonist methyllycaconitine in different rat models of heroin reinstatement. J Psychopharmacol, 2021 Oct; 35(10): 1204-1215. doi: 10.1177/0269881121991570. Epub 2021 Mar 10. Read more...

Wright VL, Georgiou P, Bailey A, Heal DJ, Bailey CP, Wonnacott S. Inhibition of α7 nicotinic receptors in the ventral hippocampus selectively attenuates reinstatement of morphine-conditioned place preference and associated changes in AMPA receptor binding. Addict Biol, 2019; 24: 590-603. Read more...

Stanford SC, Heal DJ. Catecholamines: Knowledge and understanding in the 1960s, now, and in the future. Brain Neurosci Adv, 2019; 3: 2398212818810682. doi: 10.1177/2398212818810682. Epub 2019 Jan 23. Read more...

Hutson PH, Rowley HL, Gosden J, Kulkarni RS, Slater N, Love PL, Wang Y, Heal D. The effects in rats of lisdexamfetamine in combination with olanzapine on mesocorticolimbic dopamine efflux, striatal dopamine D2 receptor occupancy and stimulus generalization to a d-amphetamine cue. Neuropharmacol, 2016; 101: 24-35. Read more...

Heal DJ, Smith SL, Henningfield JE. CNS stimulants. Neuropharmacol, 2014; 87: 1-3.

Heal DJ, Gosden J, Smith SL. Dopamine reuptake transporter (DAT) "inverse agonism" - A novel hypothesis to explain the enigmatic pharmacology of cocaine. Neuropharmacol, 2014; 87: 19-40. Read more...

Heal DJ, Smith SL, Gosden J, Nutt DJ. Amphetamine, past and present – A pharmacological and clinical perspective. J Psychopharmacol, 2013; 27: 479-496. Read more...

Kennett A, Heal DJ, Wonnacott S. Pharmacological differences between rat frontal cortex and hippocampus in the nicotinic modulation of noradrenaline release implicate distinct receptor subtypes. Nicotine Tob Res, 2012; 14: 1339-1345. Read more...

Smith SL, Heal DJ, Martin KF. KTX 0101: a potential metabolic approach to cytoprotection in major surgery and neurological disorders. CNS Drug Rev, 2005; 11: 113-140. Read more...

Smith SL, Thompson KSJ, Sargent BJ, Heal DJ. BTS 72 664 - A novel CNS drug with potential anticonvulsant, neuroprotective and antimigraine properties. CNS Drug Rev, 2001; 7: 146-171. Read more...

Cheetham SC, Heal DJ. Antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs. In: Principles of Medical Biology, Vol 14B. Bitar N, Bittar EE (Eds). pp 509-565. JAI Press, Stamford, 2000.

Heal DJ, Cheetham SC. SSRIs: Where now, where next? In: SSRIs: Past, Present and Future. Stanford SC (Ed). pp 189-220. RG Landes Company, Georgetown, 2000.

Rowley HL, Needham PL, Kilpatrick IC ,Heal DJ. A comparison of the acute effects of zotepine and other antipsychotics on rat cortical dopamine release, in vivo. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Arch Pharmac, 2000; 361: 187-192. Read more...

Heal DJ, Czudek C, Buckett WR. Common profile of D1 receptor antagonists and atypical antipsychotic drugs revealed by dopamine turnover studies. Prog Neuro-Psychopharmacol Biol Psychiat, 1994; 18: 803-821.

Heal DJ, Luscombe GP, Martin KF. Pharmacological identification of 5-HT receptor subtypes using behavioural models. In: Central Serotonin Receptors and Psychotropic Drugs. Marsden CA, Heal DJ. (Eds). pp 56-99. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, 1992.

Heal DJ. The effects of drugs on behavioural models of central noradrenergic function. In: The Pharmacology of Noradrenaline in the Central Nervous System. Heal DJ, Marsden CA (Eds). pp. 266-315. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1990.

Green AR, Heal DJ. Effects of drugs on serotonin-mediated behavioural models. In: Neuropharmacology of Serotonin. Green AR (Ed). pp 326-365. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1985.


Kuijer E, Bailey S, Smith S, Wonnacott S, Bailey C, Heal D. Kappa and mu opioid receptors in the paraventricular thalamus reveal enigmatic roles in assimilation, integration, and processing of aversive and rewarding CNS signals. M154. American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Meeting, Tampa, Florida, USA, 3rd-6th December 2023.

Heal D, Kuijer E, Bailey, Smith S, Wonnacott S, Bailey C. Evidence to show nalfurafine is aversive at analgesic doses suggesting it is not an atypical kappa opioid receptor agonist. T179. American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Meeting, Tampa, Florida, USA, 3rd-6th December 2023.

Kuijer E, Heal D, Bailey S, Smith S, Wonnacott S, Bailey C. Electrophysiological analysis of kappa opioid receptors in mouse paraventricular thalamus. P1.58. European Behavioural Pharmacology Society Biennial Meeting, Mannheim, Germany, 22nd-25th August 2023.

Kuijer EJ, Bailey SJ, Heal DJ, Smith S, Wonnacott S, Bailey CP. A single injection of kappa opioid receptor agonist inhibits contextual heroin cues by counter-conditioning, not by enhancing extinction. Poster 11. KappaCon 2023, the 7th Conference on the 'Therapeutic Potential of Kappa Opioids in Pain and Addiction', NIH Campus, Bethesda, Maryland, USA, 29th-31st March 2023.

Kuijer E, Heal D, Bailey S, Smith S, Wonnacott S, Bailey C. Kappa opioid receptor currents in mouse paraventricular thalamus. International Narcotics Research Conference, Valencia, Spain, 4th-8th July 2022. See poster...

Coccia MJ, Wonnacott S, Heal DJ, Bailey CP. The role of alpha7 nicotinic receptors in the ventral hippocampus in heroin-induced conditioned place preference. Federation of the European Neuroscience Societies Virtual Forum, 11th-15th July 2020. See poster...

Heal DJ, Smith SL. Relative contributions of drug re-exposure and salient cues in the reinstatement of cocaine and heroin seeking; implications for the treatment of substance use disorders. American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Meeting, Orlando, Florida, USA, 8th-11th December 2019. See poster...

Coccia MG, Wonnacott S, Heal DJ, Bailey CP. The role of α7 nicotinic receptors in reinstatement of drug-induced conditioned place preference. European Behavioural Pharmacology Society, Braga, Portugal, 28th-31st August 2019. See poster...

Keogh E, Smith SL, Heal DJ. Comparison of the reinstatement of cocaine-seeking in remission induced by cues, drug or a drug/cue combination – an IVSA study in rats. College on Problems of Drug Dependence Meeting, San Diego, California, USA, 9th-14th June 2018.

Eyerman DJ, Rowley HL, Jacobi I, Cunningham JI, Heal DJ, Dean RL, Deaver DR. Combinations of buprenorphine and samidorphan modulate glutamatergic transmission in the medial prefrontal cortex and ventral hippocampus of male Wistar rats. American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, 7th-11th December 2014.

Hutson P, Rowley HL, Kulkarni RS, Heal DJ. Investigating the interaction between lisdexamfetamine and S-citalopram on monoamine neurochemistry by dual-probe microdialysis in freely moving rats – Evidence for synergistic augmentation of serotonin and dopamine efflux. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Congress, San Diego, California, USA, 20th-25th October 2014.

Hutson PH, Rowley HL, Kulkarni RS, Heal DJ. Determination of the monoaminergic interactions between lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (LDX) and duloxetine reveals a synergistic augmentation of dopamine efflux in the nucleus accumbens and striatum. New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit Meeting, Hollywood, Florida, USA, 16th-19th June 2014.

Jackson HC, Rowley HL, Hackett D, Heal D. A microdialysis and behavioral comparison of lisdexamfetamine and methylphenidate in freely-moving rats. 654.12. Society for Neuroscience Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 13th-17th October 2012.

Cheetham SC, Sood P, Prow MR, Rowley HL, Heal DJ. Profound suppression of noradrenaline, dopamine and 5-HT turnover in various regions of rat brain evoked by the α2-adrenoceptor agonist, clonidine. 74.15. Society for Neuroscience Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 13th-17th October 2012.


British Pharmacological Society, Laboratory Animal Science Association and Psychiatry Consortium joint workshop (online), 25th February 2021.

Workshop entitled: “Exploring the Status of Preclinical Models of Psychiatric Disorders - Their Validity and Scope for Successful Translation.”


  • Drug Abuse Evaluation
  • ADHD
  • Binge-Eating Disorder
  • Obesity and Metabolic Disorders
  • Psychedelics and Cannabinoids

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