Science Daily reveals a new molecular pathway the brain uses to regulate anxiety and depression – a discovery that opens the door for a new class of antidepressants:
The research, led by Eleanor Coffey, Research Director at Åbo Akademi University in Finland is a collaborative effort between scientists in Finland and the US.
The researchers found that a protein called JNK when active, represses the generation of new neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that controls emotions and learning. By inhibiting JNK solely in newly generated nerve cells in the hippocampus, the researchers were able to alleviate anxiety and depressive behaviour in mice. This previously unknown mechanism brings fresh insight on how the brain works to regulate mood and indicates that inhibitors of JNK, such as the one used here, can provide a new avenue for anti-depressant and anxiolytic drug development.
Researchers used virus tools to find out where in the brain the JNK inhibitor acted to improve mood.