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Serotonin is one of several chemical messengers in the brain, or neurotransmitters, which help brain cells communicate with one another. Among many other functions, serotonin is involved in regulating mood. Problems with making or using the right amount of serotonin have been linked to many mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, autism, and schizophrenia.

There are many genes that code for serotonin. Some of these genes guide serotonin production and other are involved in its activity. The serotonin transporter gene makes a protein that directs serotonin from the space between brain cells — where most neurotransmitters are relayed from one cell to another — back into cells, where it can be reused. Since the most widely prescribed class of medications for treating major depression acts by blocking this transporter protein, the gene has been a prime suspect in mood and anxiety disorders.

The serotonin transporter gene has many versions. Since everyone inherits a copy of this gene from each parent, a person may have two copies of the same version or one copy each of two different versions. One version of the serotonin transporter gene makes less protein, resulting in decreased transport of serotonin back into cells. This version has also long been the focus of depression research due to its suggested effect on risk.
Nicotine metabolite supports learning, memory by amplifying action of primary chemical messenger

Nicotine metabolite supports learning, memory by amplifying action of primary chemical messenger

Nicotine's primary metabolite supports learning and memory by amplifying the action of a primary chemical messenger involved in both, researchers report. [More]
Researchers close to novel therapy to treat levodopa-induced dyskinesia

Researchers close to novel therapy to treat levodopa-induced dyskinesia

Involuntary dyskinetic movements induced by treatment with levodopa (L-dopa) are a common problem for people with Parkinson's disease. Now, however, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Lund University in Sweden seem to be close to a novel therapy to this distressing side effect. [More]
Psychedelic drug prevents allergic asthma in mouse model

Psychedelic drug prevents allergic asthma in mouse model

Research led by Charles Nichols, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that a psychedelic drug, (R)-DOI, prevents the development of allergic asthma in a mouse model. [More]
Mice genetically deficient in serotonin are more vulnerable to social stressors

Mice genetically deficient in serotonin are more vulnerable to social stressors

Mice genetically deficient in serotonin -- a crucial brain chemical implicated in clinical depression -- are more vulnerable than their normal littermates to social stressors, according to a Duke study appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [More]
Ildong Pharmaceutical to market BELVIQ (lorcaserin HCl) for weight management in South Korea

Ildong Pharmaceutical to market BELVIQ (lorcaserin HCl) for weight management in South Korea

Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced that Ildong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., has informed Arena that the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has approved BELVIQ (lorcaserin HCl) for marketing for weight management in South Korea. Ildong will market and distribute BELVIQ in South Korea under its marketing and supply agreement with Arena's wholly owned subsidiary, Arena Pharmaceuticals GmbH, or Arena GmbH. [More]
Alzheimer's drug Aricept (donepezil) linked to serious side effects

Alzheimer's drug Aricept (donepezil) linked to serious side effects

New warnings have been added to the prescribing information for the Alzheimer's drug Aricept (donepezil) advising of the risk of two rare but potentially serious conditions: muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) and a neurological disorder called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). [More]
Unmet medication need in neuropathic pain

Unmet medication need in neuropathic pain

A systematic review and meta-analysis reveals that current treatments for neuropathic pain achieve only a moderate response in patients. [More]
Neurobiologists find paradoxical effect of abuse-related cues in infants, adults

Neurobiologists find paradoxical effect of abuse-related cues in infants, adults

Neurobiologists at NYU Langone Medical Center and elsewhere have found a surprising and paradoxical effect of abuse-related cues in rat pups: those cues also can lower depressive-like behavior when the rat pups are fully grown. [More]
University of Copenhagen researchers move closer to developing antidote against cocaine addiction

University of Copenhagen researchers move closer to developing antidote against cocaine addiction

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have gained new insight into the mechanism behind a protein dopamine transporter that could help in the development of future medical treatment against cocaine addiction. [More]
New UCLA study sheds light on why some people develop PTSD

New UCLA study sheds light on why some people develop PTSD

Why do some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while others who suffered the same ordeal do not? A new UCLA discovery may shed light on the answer. [More]
Research findings could lead to new drug design for neurological diseases

Research findings could lead to new drug design for neurological diseases

A new intermediate step and unexpected enzymatic activity in a metabolic pathway in the body, which could lead to new drug design for psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, has been discovered by researchers at Georgia State University. [More]
Different antidepressants may affect pregnant women differently

Different antidepressants may affect pregnant women differently

About 15 percent of women in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders and depression during their pregnancies, and many are prescribed antidepressants. However little is known about how early exposure to these medications might affect their offspring as they mature into adults. [More]
UCLA researchers uncover potential to restore lost memories in patients with early Alzheimer's

UCLA researchers uncover potential to restore lost memories in patients with early Alzheimer's

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored. The findings offer some hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. [More]
Researchers identify 53 existing drugs that may block Ebola virus from entering human cells

Researchers identify 53 existing drugs that may block Ebola virus from entering human cells

Researchers found 53 existing drugs that may keep the Ebola virus from entering human cells, a key step in the process of infection, according to a study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the National Institutes of Health, and published today in the Nature Press journal Emerging Microbes and Infections. [More]
Sensitive toxicity test aims to detect dangerous side effects in pharmaceutical development

Sensitive toxicity test aims to detect dangerous side effects in pharmaceutical development

Because of undetected toxicity problems, about a third of prescription drugs approved in the U.S. are withdrawn from the market or require added warning labels limiting their use. An exceptionally sensitive toxicity test invented at the University of Utah could make it possible to uncover more of these dangerous side effects early in pharmaceutical development so that fewer patients are given unsafe drugs. [More]
Environmental factors influence how genetic variants affect the brain, behaviour

Environmental factors influence how genetic variants affect the brain, behaviour

Both positive and negative experiences influence how genetic variants affect the brain and thereby behaviour, according to a new study. "Evidence is accumulating to show that the effects of variants of many genes that are common in the population depend on environmental factors. [More]
Laughing gas could be used as treatment for severe depression

Laughing gas could be used as treatment for severe depression

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has shown early promise as a potential treatment for severe depression in patients whose symptoms don't respond to standard therapies. The pilot study, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is believed to be the first research in which patients with depression were given laughing gas. [More]
Scientists receive NIH grants to explore sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

Scientists receive NIH grants to explore sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

Nine groups of scientists will receive funding totaling $5.9 million in 2014 to work together on increasing the understanding of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), the leading cause of death from epilepsy. The consortium becomes the second Center Without Walls, an initiative to speed the pace of research on difficult problems in epilepsy by promoting collaborative research. [More]
Case Western Reserve selected to lead $27.3 million international effort to identify causes of SUDEP

Case Western Reserve selected to lead $27.3 million international effort to identify causes of SUDEP

Case Western Reserve is one of two universities in the country selected to lead a $27.3 million international effort to identify the causes of a mysterious and deadly phenomenon that strikes people with epilepsy without warning. [More]
McMaster University researchers identify hormone that contributes to obesity, diabetes

McMaster University researchers identify hormone that contributes to obesity, diabetes

Researchers from McMaster University have identified an important hormone that is elevated in obese people and contributes to obesity and diabetes by inhibiting brown fat activity. [More]