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Biological link between stress, anxiety and depression identified for the first time
Date:4/11/2010

Scientists at The University of Western Ontario have discovered the biological link between stress, anxiety and depression. By identifying the connecting mechanism in the brain, this high impact research led by Stephen Ferguson of Robarts Research Institute shows exactly how stress and anxiety could lead to depression. The study also reveals a small molecule inhibitor developed by Ferguson, which may provide a new and better way to treat anxiety, depression and other related disorders. The findings are published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Ferguson, Ana Magalhaes and their colleagues used a behavioural mouse model and a series of molecular experiments to reveal the connection pathway and to test the new inhibitor. "Our findings suggest there may be an entire new generation drugs and drug targets that can be used to selectively target depression, and therefore treat it more effectively, " says Ferguson, the director of the Molecular Brain Research Group at Robarts, and a professor in the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. "We've gone from mechanism to mouse, and the next step is to see whether or not we can take the inhibitor we developed, and turn it into a pharmaceutical agent."

The research was conducted in collaboration with Hymie Anisman at Carleton University, and funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). "According to the World Health Organization, depression, anxiety and other related mood disorders now share the dubious distinction of being the most prevalent causes of chronic illness," says Anthony Phillips, the scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. "Using the power of molecular biology, Stephen Ferguson and colleagues provide novel insights that may be the key to improving the lives of so many individuals coping with these forms of mental ill health."

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Contact: Kathy Wallis
kwallis3@uwo.ca
519-661-2111 x81136
University of Western Ontario
Source:Eurekalert

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