Scientists discover the molecule responsible for causing feelings of depression
Protein receptor is found to release hormones that can cause anxiety and depression
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Sunday 21 July 2013
Scientists have used one of the world’s most powerful X-ray machines to identify the molecule responsible for feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression.
The pituitary gland is known to the medical world as a key player in stress and anxiety, as it releases stress chemicals in the blood.
However, scientists have now discovered that the protein receptor CRF1 is responsible for releasing hormones which can cause anxiety and depression over extended periods of time. The protein receptor is found in the brain and controls our response to stress. When it detects stress molecules released by the hypothalamus, it releases these hormones.
The study, conducted by drug company Heptares Therapeutics, was published in the Nature journal on 17 July.
Researchers used a particle accelerator called the Diamond Light Source to understand the structure of CRF1. The X-ray machine’s powerful beams illuminated the protein's structure, according to the Sunday Times, including a crevice that could become a new target for drug therapy.
The information gained from this study will be used to design small molecule drugs that fit into this new pocket to treat depression.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Dr Fiona Marshall, Chief Scientific Officer at Heptares Therapeutics, said: “Now we know its shape, we can design a molecule that will lock into this crevice and block it so that CRF1 becomes inactive — ending the biochemical cascade that ends in stress.”
Writing on Diamond’s website, Dr. Andrew Dore, a senior scientist with Heptares added that the structure of the protein receptor “can be used as a template to solve closely related receptors that open up the potential for new drugs to treat a number of major diseases including Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis”.
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says 'they messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...
£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...