Researchers from the United States on Wednesday said that gene therapy could prove beneficial in tackling severe depression cases, which cannot be treated with conventional drug treatments.
The researchers in an experiment found that reinstating a key gene that stimulates a specific protein in nucleus accumbens of the brain reversed depression-like behaviour in mice.
The lead researcher of the study, Michael Kaplitt said, “Given our findings, we potentially have a novel therapy to target what we now believe is one root cause of human depression”.
The study findings have been published in the most recent issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The scientists noticed that a protein called p11 in the nucleus accumbens was linked with pleasure and satisfaction that are generally not present in severe depression cases.
During the postmortem analysis of human subjects, it was found that the level of p11 protein was very low in people suffering from severe depression as compared to the normal subjects.
Kaplitt said that the lack of p11 triggers a neuron to produce all the required serotonin receptors, but they are transported to the cell surface.
Dr. Guang Chen, a neuroscience researcher at Johnson and Johnson said that using gene therapy for severe depression represents ‘uncharted territory’.