A precision medicine approach to pharmacological adjuncts to extinction: a call to broaden research

Gabrielle King*, Kathryn D. Baker, Madelyne A. Bisby, Diana Chan, Caitlin S. M. Cowan, Anthea A. Stylianakis, Kelsey S. Zimmermann, Rick Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


There is a pressing need to improve treatments for anxiety. Although exposure-based therapy is currently the gold-standard treatment, many people either do not respond to this therapy or experience a relapse of symptoms after treatment has ceased. In recent years, there have been many novel pharmacological agents identified in preclinical research that have potential as adjuncts for exposure therapy, yet very few of these are regularly integrated into clinical practice. Unfortunately, the robust effects observed in the laboratory animal often do not translate to a clinical population. In this review, we discuss how age, sex, genetics, stress, medications, diet, alcohol, and the microbiome can vary across a clinical population and yet are rarely considered in drug development. While not an exhaustive list, we have focused on these factors because they have been shown to influence an individual’s vulnerability to anxiety and alter the neurotransmitter systems often targeted by pharmacological adjuncts to therapy. We argue that for potential adjuncts to be successfully translated from the lab to the clinic empirical research must be broadened to consider how individual difference factors will influence drug efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-161
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • extinction
  • stress
  • sex
  • pharmacological adjuncts
  • genetics
  • microbiome


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