With all the news recently about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, any new information on Depression has not been given its due course. No worries, I will be posting some articles this week starting with the latest news about new gene therapy for Major Depression.
Well I guess they cannot say it’s all in your head (so to speak) anymore. A report published in the Science Translational Medicine, researchers from NewYork/Weil Cornell Medical Center say their data suggest the same gene therapy modality as the one used for Parkinson’s Disease be used to the brain to treat patients with Major Depression.
Excerpt from Gene Therapy May Be Powerful New Treatment For Major Depression From Medical News Today Published October 22,2010:
“Given our findings, we potentially have a novel therapy to target what we now believe is one root cause of human depression,” says the study’s senior investigator, Dr. Michael Kaplitt, associate professor and vice chairman for research of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and a neurosurgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“Current therapies for depression treat symptoms but not underlying causes, and while that works for many patients, those with advanced depression, or depression that does not respond to medication, could hopefully benefit from our new approach,” adds Dr. Kaplitt
The Science Translational Medicine study demonstrates that a brain protein known as p11 in a single, small brain area, the nucleus accumbens, is critical to the feelings of reward and pleasure that are often missing in depression.
In 2006 Dr. Paul Greengard, of Rockefeller University, a neuroscientist who won a Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work in neurotransmission between brain neurons, and his Rockefeller colleagues discovered that the p11 gene played a key role in depression. The idea for the research came over discussions between Drs. Greengard and Kaplitt. Along with colleagues they found that the p11 protein was needed to bring receptors that bind to the neurotransmitter serotonin to the surface of nerve cells. Among other functions in the brain, serotonin regulates mood, appetite and sleep, and most antidepressants try to regulate serotonin.
While investigators believe that depression is a complex disorder that likely involves a number of brain areas and neural circuits, they say their findings suggest that restoring p11 may significantly alter the course of depression in humans.
…”Applying molecular neurobiology and gene therapy to depression could dramatically alter the approach to psychiatric diseases,” Dr. Kaplitt says. “Our results provide further evidence that the underlying causes of psychiatric disorders are due to molecular changes in key brain circuits, so that they are much more similar to common neurological disorders — such as Parkinson’s disease — that might be helped by restoring molecular function.”
“In the absence of p11, a neuron can produce all the serotonin receptors it needs, but they will not be transported to the cell surface and therefore won’t stick out and latch on to the neurotransmitter,” says Dr. Kaplitt
This study also reports that autopsy studies of patients with severe depression revealed significantly reduced levels of the p11 protein in their nucleus accumbens, compared with individuals without depression.
“Together, these studies provide strong evidence that maintaining adequate levels of this particular protein, p11, in this pleasure-reward area of the brain may be central to preventing or treating depression,” Dr. Kaplitt says.
The researchers say that not only could the gene therapy used here restore p11, but future research may identify a small molecule to restore p11.
To read the full article from Medical News Today, here is the link:
Have a Great Day!!
The study was funded by grants from the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Skirball Foundation, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Swedish Royal Academy of Science.
Study co-authors also included Brian Alexander, Margarita Arango-Lievano, Mary Vernov, Mihaela Stavarache, from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center; Jennifer Warner Schmidt and Marc Flajolet, from Rockefeller