New brain pathway to ease depression found

6th Oct 2016

Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered a new pathway in the brain that can be manipulated to alleviate depression.

In this study, they found that antidepressant drugs target a certain pathway in cells in the hippocampus (BMP signalling pathway). This type of pathway works by one molecule receiving a signal and consequently activating another molecule and so forth until the function is carried out. 

After confirming that the BMP pathway was important for depression, the scientists tested a brain protein (Noggin) on depressed mice. They found that this protein blocked the BMP pathway and caused new neurons to be stimulated which are involved in mood and memory formation.

This new form of antidepressant blocks the pathway more precisely and more effectively than the original drugs used.

Further research is needed to test Noggin protein on human's as well as mice. Although the research may not help to understand the causes of depression, it can provide a new biochemical target for developing more effective therapies.

To read the full article, please visit the Northwestern University website or Nature website

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