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TOPIC TITLE: Scientific breakthrough
Created On 6/2/14 12:02 AM
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gad
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6/2/14 12:02 AM
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ScienceAlert Homepage. May 2, 2014

Doctors may soon be able to diagnose mental illness with a simple blood test, new research suggests.

In a huge breakthrough for the treatment of mental illness, scientists have revealed that depression can be detected by biomarkers in the blood.

Many depressive conditions are caused by a lack of serotonin, or the "happiness hormone", in the brain. And now scientists from the Medical University of Vienna have shown that by analysing the blood levels of serotonin transporter (SERT), a protein essential of the transport of serotonin into brain cells, it's theoretically possible to detect whether someone is suffering from depression.

These SERT proteins are found in large quantitates in the blood and other organs, and the scientists found that there is a close relationship between the speed of serotonin uptake in blood platelets and the function of the 'depression network' in the brain.

Study leader Luke Pezawas explained in a press release: “This is the first study that has been able to predict the activity of a major depression network in the brain using a blood test."

Even better, the research, which is published in PLoS One, is the first to indicate the concept is even possible.

"While blood tests for mental illnesses have until recently been regarded as impossible, this study clearly shows that a blood test is possible in principle for diagnosing depression and could become reality in the not too distant future," Pezawas adds.




 
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gad
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6/2/14 12:34 AM
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From a recent news article:

A new experimental depression treatment has shown that it may be possible to achieve much faster and larger improvements by using drugs that alter glutamate neurotransmission as opposed to all the other antidepressants that primarily affect monoaminergic (serotonin, noradrenalin, and dopamine) neurotransmission. These findings are exciting and may herald the arrival of a new class of antidepressant drugs and the dawn of a new era in the treatment of depression.
 
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channafofanna
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6/8/14 3:23 PM
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Wow! Thanks for keeping us posted Gad!
 
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gad
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6/8/14 5:18 PM
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Thanks
 
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gad
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6/9/14 1:03 AM
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Sun News : Tiny molecule may help battle depression, study claims
June 8, 2014. QMI Agency

Levels of a small molecule found in humans and other primates are lower in the brains of depressed individuals, according to researchers at McGill University.

In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, Dr. Gustavo Turecki, a professor at Montreal's McGill University, and his team discovered that the levels of a tiny molecule may provide a marker for depression and help detect individuals who are likely to respond to antidepressant treatment.

"Using samples from the Douglas Bell-Canada Brain Bank, we examined brain tissues from individuals who were depressed and compared them with brain tissues from psychiatrically healthy individuals, says Turecki, who is also director of the McGill Group for Suicide Studies.

The team says it conducted several experiments that showed that antidepressants change the levels of the molecule.

"In our clinical trials with depressed individuals treated with citalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, we found lower levels in depressed individuals compared to the non-depressed individuals before treatment," Turecki said. "Clearly, microRNA miR-1202 increased as the treatment worked and individuals no longer felt depressed."

Turecki says the discovery may provide "a potential target for the development of new and more effective antidepressant treatments."






 
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gad
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Why researchers think the gut holds the key to depression

Hamilton researchers have found a connection between the gut and fighting depression
CBC news may 14, 2014

Forget the brain. The latest advancements in the treatment of depression and anxiety are coming from a more unlikely source – the gut.

Hamilton researcher Wolfgang Kunze has found that future treatments for some mental health disorders may not lie with drugs at all, but in understanding the role the gastrointestinal tract plays in sending signals to the brain.

Kunze, a researcher with the Brain-Body Institute at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, has discovered a new nerve pathway in the gut that is key to sending signals from an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety microbe to the brain.

The more we understand those microbes, he said, the more we can find natural treatments – such as eating the right foods, or low-grade electrical stimulation – to treat depression.

The gut is so powerful that it has its own nervous system, and it possesses a gatekeeper, or “little brain” that controls the signals it sends to the brain, particularly as it pertains to mood.

Gut may determine speed of "death clock," researcher says

“The little brain has a million nerve cells,” Kunze said. “It’s an ancient nervous system. I call it the gatekeeper.”

Kunze’s findings were recently published in the journal FASEB, or Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology. His team of international researchers have been studying signals in mice, and plan for human trials over the next year.

Kunze’s mouse trials showed that the gut could send signals from specific probiotic bacteria, which have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties, to the brain.

“If the system acts in the same way in humans, it could allow us to use existing treatments for anxiety and depression differently,” said John Bienenstock, director of the McMaster Brain-Body Institute at St. Joseph’s Healthcare.

Kunze’s work on the “little brain” started in 1995. He’s since come across an even more tantalizing glimpse of what the gut holds – it seems to determine the speed of the “death clock” that winds down with our bodies.

“It may well be the gut that primes the body and tells the clock to count down,” he said. “If its speed is government by a signal from the intestines, there are very real indications.”
 
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gad
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6/10/14 2:01 AM
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Laughing gas works faster than pills for depression
By ROGER DOBSON Mail Online 9 June 2014

Laughing gas is used to relieve the pain of childbirth - but could it be the answer to depression, too? That's the suggestion behind a study testing the use of nitrous oxide - known as laughing gas - for low mood.
Previous research has shown mixing the gas with oxygen can ease the symptoms of depression within hours or even minutes; antidepressants can take weeks.
It's thought the gas blocks a brain chemical that could play a key role in the problem. Now this is being tested in a clinical trial.
The standard treatment for depression is antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These are said to work by increasing levels of the brain chemical serotonin, boosting mood.
But they do not help everyone and some research has suggested that for mild to moderate depression they work no better than a placebo. Even when antidepressants do work, they can take weeks to have an effect.
However, U.S. research suggests the brain chemical glutamate - involved in memory, learning and cognition - may be involved in depression.
Glutamate is a neurotransmitter - a chemical that passes messages from one nerve cell to another. It locks on to a receptor in the brain. Depression has been linked to glutamate's chronic overstimulation of this receptor (known as NMDA).
Nitrous oxide - a weak anaesthetic used in dentistry and childbirth - is thought to block these receptors.
In a trial at Washington State University, patients will breathe in a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, or a placebo, for one hour. The severity of their depression will be assessed 30 minutes and two hours after each treatment.
Previous research has shown that drugs which block NMDA can have a powerful effect on symptoms of severe depression. A study of 22 patients given the drug ASD6765 intravenously showed 32 per cent had improvements within 80 minutes.
 
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channafofanna
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6/10/14 12:27 PM
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Laughing gas does help. I remember I had it once and it felt so good, but the feeling didn't last more than a few hours.... Is the laughing gas supposed to last for a long time or is it just like temporary releif?
 
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gad
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6/10/14 11:25 PM
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I would imagine that at this point in time it's temporary. But I think that they see potential in studying how it works, and then developing things that can make it work better.
 
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channafofanna
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6/11/14 2:16 PM
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Ok, thanks
 
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