QBI researchers are making significant advances in the understanding of how anti-depressant medications work to stimulate the brain and improve a person’s mood.
In 2010, researcher Dr Dhanisha Jhaveri discovered that the class of drugs that increases levels of a neurotransmitter known as ‘norepinephrine’ triggers neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) in a brain region called the hippocampus
“If you block hippocampal neurogenesis, antidepressants no longer work. That suggests antidepressants must up-regulate neurogenesis in order for them to actually have any affect on behaviour,” Dr Jhaveri said.
Armed with this information, researchers are now working to develop more specific – and therefore more effective – therapeutic treatments for depression.
“The identification of the molecular composition of receptors in the amygdala is guiding our search for new and more specific drugs to treat anxiety disorders,” explained anxiety researcher Professor Pankaj Sah.