The Journal of Neuroscience
February 11, 2009
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Key Protein May Lead to Faster Acting Anti-Depression Drugs
Research conducted by Nobel laureate Paul Greengard, Director of Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research at The Rockefeller University, Dr. Jennifer L. Warner-Schmidt in New York and colleagues in Sweden, demonstrated in the Journal of Neuroscience that the brain protein called p11 could lead pharmaceutical companies to develop anti-depression drugs that begin working within hours or days rather than the weeks or even months required by current drugs.
This study, Role of p11 in Cellular and Behavior Effects of 5-HT4 Receptor Stimulation, solidifies the protein p11 as a key determinant of vulnerability to depression. This new research shows that p11, activates a serotonin receptor in the brain known for producing rapid anti-depressant response.
“There is pressing clinical need for faster-acting antidepressants,” says Greengard. “An understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying the therapeutic actions of these drugs may lead to better treatments with fewer side effects.” In fact, each year over 17 million American adults experience at least one episode of clinical depression. Depression experts claim that many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. Perhaps if there were antidepressants available that could start working in hours or days rather than weeks or months – more people would seek treatment.
Previous research by Greengard, who was awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, helped establish p11 as an important protein that regulates signaling in the brain by the neurotransmitter serotonin, which has long been linked to mood.