Researchers discover new depression treatment faster than conventional antidepressants

By @amunrhantareon on
A child hugs a teacher at the yard of the Model National Nursery of Kallithea, in Athens, Greece, March 3, 2017.
A child hugs a teacher at the yard of the Model National Nursery of Kallithea, in Athens, Greece, March 3, 2017. Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a new method of alleviating depression. Their mechanism involves inhibiting a specific enzyme in mice.

According to University of California researchers, their study found out that inhibiting the Glyoxalase 1 (GLO1) enzyme in mice relieved signs of depression. They also observed that GLO1 inhibition worked faster than convention Prozac.

Abraham Palmer, Ph.D., senior author and vice chair for basic research at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said that this can help find better depression treatments. This is because standard antidepressants do not work for everyone with depression. Some of them also take time before kicking in. 

Prozac is an antidepressant used to treat depression and a variety of other disorders. This includes obsessive-compulsive disorder, binge eating disorder, and panic disorder. However, Prozac and other antidepressants were also shown to have a side effect that increases the risks of suicidal thoughts among its takers. 

"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," he told Eureka Alert.

Palmer and his team discovered their new enzyme method by looking at how some molecular processes affect mice. They explained that cells generate a few byproducts as they generate energy. These byproducts can inhibit neurons, which can influence behaviour.

The GLO1 enzyme originally removes these byproducts. However, it was discovered that inhibiting the GLO1 enzyme's function also has beneficial effects. Palmer and his team observed that mice with more GLO1 activity actually made them more anxious. This led them to try inhibiting the GLO1 eznyme.

Their tests found out that inhibiting the GLO1 enzyme in various types of mice can reduce symptoms of depression in five days. Mice that ingested Prozac took 14 days before showing reduced symptoms. 

However, Palmer and his team said it may take time before an effective GLO1 inhibitor can be tested in humans. Regardless, the prospects of relying on natural molecular processes has opened the possibility of new approaches to treating depression.

"There are currently no approved fast-acting antidepressants, so finding something like this is unusual," said co-author Stephanie Dulawa, Ph.D. at UC San Diego Schooo of Medicine.