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January 28, 2015
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Researchers breed permanently “happy” mice
Aug. 24, 2006
Courtesy McGill University
and World Science staff
A new breed of permanently â€œcheerfulâ€ mouse is providing new hope for treatment
of clinical depression, researchers say.
The scientists studied a gene called TREK-1, which can affect
the flow of a brain chemical called serotonin. This in turn influences mood, sleep and sexuality.
|Courtesy National Institutes of Health
By breeding mice without TREK-1, the researchers said they created a depression-resistant strain.
The findings appear in the research journal
Nature Neuroscience this week.
â€œDepression is a devastating illness, which affects around 10 percent of people at some point in their life,â€ said Guy Debonnel of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, principal author of the paper. Current treatments fail for a third of patients, he added.
Scientists also believe mice can suffer moods akin to human depression, evidenced by withdrawn and passive behavior in the rodents. Some of the same brain chemicals have been linked to both human and rodent â€œdepression.â€
Debonnelâ€™s team tested the newly bred mice using â€œbehavioral, electrophys­iological and
biochemical measures known to gauge â€˜depressionâ€™ in animals,â€ he said. â€œThe results really surprised us. [They] acted as if they had been treated with antidepressants for at least three weeks.â€
The research represents the first time depression has been eliminated by genetically modifying an organism, he added. â€œThe discovery of a link between TREK-1 and depression could ultimately lead to the development of a new generation of antidepressant drugs.â€
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