Gene Therapy Helps Alleviating Depression

A new US study has found that revitalizing genes in the brain could help alleviating depression.

The study was conducted by researchers from New York-based Weill-Cornell Medical Centre and Rockefeller University. The team of researchers was led by Dr. Michael Kaplitt. The researchers suggest that by restoring a brain protein known as p11, which is associated with sensations of reward and pleasure, depression can be reversed.

As per scientists, the gene therapy can prove beneficial for patients who don’t find relief from conventional depression medications.

The brain protein p11 is found in the nucleus accumbens, a small part of the brain, is linked with the state of happiness, which depression patients don’t possess.

The findings of the study appeared in the Science Translational Journal. They are based on the analyses of human and animal data, along with fresh investigation carried out on mice by testing disabling p11 gene in them with the help of siRNA (small bits of double-stranded RNA).

It was discovered that mice, whose gene p11 were made incapable reflected depression like symptoms. They were given a gene therapy by infusing a smart virus in their brain cells, which resulted into disappearing of their depression like behaviours.

“The study provides strong evidence that maintaining adequate levels of this particular protein, p11, in this pleasure-reward area of the brain may be central to preventing or treating depression”, said Dr. Kaplitt.