NeuroCart: the next generation of multi-function, standardised CNS batteries, developed in-house by CHDR.


  • NeuroCart is a comprehensive battery that can test all functional domains of the CNS.
  • NeuroCart provides both objective and subjective measures.
  • Rapid retesting allows researchers to complete several rounds of testing both before and after the drug is administered.
  • Full dose-effect curves can be measured quickly and easily.
  • Due to its high sensitivity, NeuroCart can robustly detect even subtle effects.
  • The highly flexible design can be adapted easily to meet a sponsor’s specific needs.
  • Test data are captured automatically and entered directly into a CDISC-validated system.
  • The tests are safe and have been used successfully for nearly three decades to test a wide range of CNS drugs.

The NeuroCart

One of the most important questions in early development of drugs for neurological or psychiatric disorders, is whether the drug penetrates into the brain and shows pharmacological effects on the central nervous system. Therefore, over the past two decades CHDR has developed the NeuroCart.

NeuroCart is a full battery of neuropsychological and neurophysiological tests that can be used to measure a wide range of CNS functions. Importantly, NeuroCart can be used to correlate a compound’s CNS effects with drug concentration, helping determine whether an effect is due to specifically the compound or not.

A clear advantage over other CNS test batteries is that NeuroCart provides both objective (e.g. neurophysiology) and subjective (e.g. cognitive function, memory, mood, etc.) measures of CNS function. In addition, NeuroCart is completely mobile and self-contained, including all of the necessary equipment and protocols.

Practical answers to important research questions

  • Does our compound have the specific properties that we expect?

    CHDR performed the first-in-human trials to test a short-acting benzodiazepine. Researchers used a NeuroCart test (saccadic peak velocity) and determined the dose that produced the same effect as a standard dose of midazolam. Pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) analyses showed that the new benzodiazepine was more potent and faster acting than midazolam. Importantly, the predicted optimal dose, potency, and duration of the new compound were subsequently confirmed in clinical studies with patients.

  • How do we determine the optimal dose?

    Because NeuroCart’s neurophysiological tests can be used as a surrogate marker for measuring a drug’s effect, these tests can be used to identify a dose that has the same effect on CNS function as the effective dose of a known compound.
    For instance, CHDR recently studied a new neuroleptic D2 receptor antagonist. Using NeuroCart, and the adaptive tracking test in particular, researchers were able to determine a dose with similar potency as an effective dose of haloperidol. Importantly, although previous studies predicted an effective dose of 60 mg, NeuroCart showed that a much lower dose (10-30 mg) is effective. Clinical research in patients later confirmed that a dose as low as 5 mg dose is effective, and fewer adverse effects were reported at this lower dose compared to 60 mg.

  • How do we steer between effect and complications?

    In some cases, preclinical research can provide evidence that a promising candidate drug may have a relatively small therapeutic index, as in the case of an ORX1/2 antagonist, a new sleep-inducing medication. Researchers worried that this new drug might induce a narcolepsy-like state, particularly at higher doses. To test this possibility, CHDR used several NeuroCart tests and found that this new compound has promising properties similar zolpidem and is safe at a dose of 1 mg. These findings were later confirmed in clinical testing

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