Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 21 : A new and faster way to treat depression has come closer to reality - thanks to a team of scientists.
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine discovered that inhibiting an enzyme called Glyoxalase 1 (GLO1) relieves signs of depression in mice. Moreover, inhibiting GLO1 worked much faster than the conventional antidepressant Prozac.
The study provides a target for the development of a completely new class of faster-acting antidepressant medications.
"Depression affects at least one in six of us at some point in our lifetime, and better treatments are urgently needed," said senior author Abraham Palmer, adding "A better understanding of the molecular and cellular underpinnings of depression will help us find new ways to inhibit or counteract its onset and severity."
Palmer and team unraveled a previously underappreciated molecular process that can influence mouse models of depression. Here's how the process works: Cells generate energy. In doing so, they produce a byproduct. That byproduct inhibits neurons and thus influences various behaviors. Typically, the enzyme GLO1 removes this byproduct, but inhibiting GLO1 can also increase the activity of certain neurons in a beneficial way. In mice, Palmer and others have shown that more GLO1 activity makes mice more anxious, but less was known about the system's effect on depression.
While this new approach to treating depression has so far only been tested in mice and it will take many years of development before a GLO1 inhibitor could be tested in humans, the researchers are excited to find that new, unexplored approaches to treating depression are out there.
"There are currently no approved fast-acting antidepressants, so finding something like this is unusual," said co-author Stephanie Dulawa.
The study is published in journal Molecular Psychiatry.
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