A Protein may lead to new antidepressants

London: A new study has suggested that a protein involved in the growth and development of brain cells could also play a role in depression and provide a possible target for antidepressants.

Ron Duman and colleagues at Yale University compared post-mortem brain samples from 21 people who had been depressed and 18 people of the same age.

The group looked for differences in gene expression by comparing levels of messenger RNA-the middle-man between gene and protein production-throughout the entire genome, reports New Scientist.

While Duman`s team found several hundred differences, most striking were levels of mRNA for a particular protein, MKP-1, which inhibits a pathway involved in neural growth and development.

The brains of people with depression contained twice the amount of other people.

When the group over-expressed the gene for MKP-1 in the brains of healthy rats, the animals began to show signs of depression, which disappeared when treated with an antidepressant.