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Tiny molecule may help battle depression

By Jessie McMullen     Jun 9, 2014 in Science
Researchers have found a tiny molecule (miR-1202) that may provide a marker for major depression. The molecule may also help scientist find better treatments to fight depression.
The molecule, miR-1202, is found only in humans and some mammals. Scientist found that this molecule's levels are lower in the brain of individuals who are depressed.
National Alliance on Mental Health suggests that one in 10 people in the U.S. are affected by depression. Around 25 million people in the U.S. will suffer from major depression this year.
There are several medications that exist to help fight depression but finding the correct medicine for the correct individual can lead to a lot of trial and error for physicians.
The study of the new molecule could help researchers develop better treatment methods and strategies for those individuals who are not effected by the existing medications to treat depression.
"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," said Dr Gustavo Turecki, a psychiatrist at the Douglas and professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at McGill. "We identified this molecule, a microRNA known as miR-1202, only found in humans and primates and discovered that it regulates an important receptor of the neurotransmitter glutamate."
Researchers conduct several experiments and found that antidepressants changed the level of the microRNA.
"In our clinical trials with living depressed individuals treated with citalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, we found lower levels in depressed individuals compared to the non-depressed individuals before treatment," said Turecki.
Although the antidepressants prescribed now are clearly effective, the effect on the individual responds to the medication varies from person to person said Turecki.
The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
More about Molecule, Science, Depression, Treatment, Antidepressants