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Gene editing tool may help alleviate depression in patients

Depression and anxiety may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease © Shutterstock

Scientists to target an altogether different type of receptor called delta-type GABA receptors. The approach involves targeting substances called neurosteroids with GABA receptors.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : August 21, 2018 5:54 PM IST

The researchers at Washington University in the US used CRISPR technology have used a gene-editing tool to target the natural mood-boosting receptors in the brain. They believe that this may help alleviate depression in patients who don't find relief with existing drugs. Generally, most antidepressant drugs aim to boost serotonin receptors, a chemical thought to regulate social behaviour and mood.

According to the PTI report, scientists to target an altogether different type of receptor called delta-type GABA receptors. The approach involves targeting substances called neurosteroids with GABA receptors. Neurosteroids are the chemicals which are involved in motivational and emotional brain networks. And they can occur naturally in the brain.

As per as the researchers the natural mood-boosting substances in the brain can target these receptors.

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Steven Mennerick, principal investigator of the research published in The Journal of Neuroscience reportedly said, "There's a real need to develop more effective antidepressants."

He also added "The most commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft were approved by the FDA more than 30 years ago, and there's been a dearth of new antidepressants since then. A completely new approach is warranted."

"Neurosteroids are thought to selectively interact with delta-type receptors, and there's evidence that these drugs may help patients suffering from depression," said Mennerick.

Mennerick explained that a next step would develop and test more compounds that activate those receptors if further studies confirm that activating delta-type receptors has antidepressant effects.

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