Depression cure with little side-effects found

December 1st, 2010 - 1:59 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Dec 1 (IANS) Canadian neuroscientists have developed a protein peptide to cure deep depression with little side-effects.

In their study at the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) here, the neuroscientists found that coupling between two dopamine receptors - which control neurological processes in the central nervous system- was significantly elevated in the brains of people suffering from deep depression.

“We identified a potential therapeutic target for development of novel anti-depressants,” a university statement quoted principal investigator and senior scientist Fang Liu in CAMH’s neuroscience programme. Working from this discovery, researchers sought to find a way to disrupt coupling between the two receptors in hopes that it would have an anti-depressant effect, the statement said.

They generated a protein peptide to disrupt the binding of the two receptors. The peptide was then tested in animal models to compare the effects with existing anti-depressant medications.

“After we administered the peptide, we saw a marked improvement in depression-related behaviours. The improvement seen in the peptide group was equivalent to the improvement on traditional anti-depressant medication,” said Liu.

This peptide offers an entirely new approach to treating depression, which has previously relied on medications that primarily block serotonin or norepinephrine transporters, the statement said. These conventional antidepressant medications don’t work for all patients, and can cause various side effects.

“We are hopeful that our research will lead to new options for treatment that might have reduced side effects for patients with depression,” said Liu.

Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide. The study has been published in this month’s Nature Medicine.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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