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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.
Common antidepressant can help stroke patients improve movement and coordination

Common antidepressant can help stroke patients improve movement and coordination

Working with mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins have added to evidence that a commonly prescribed antidepressant called fluoxetine helps stroke victims improve movement and coordination, and possibly why. [More]
Repetitive sacral root magnetic stimulation can reduce frequency of nighttime bedwetting

Repetitive sacral root magnetic stimulation can reduce frequency of nighttime bedwetting

Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, causes distress in children and young adults, as well as for their parents or caregivers. The causes are not fully understood and there may be both physiological and psychological components to the condition. In a new study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, researchers report that repetitive sacral root magnetic stimulation (rSMS) can reduce the frequency of nighttime bedwetting and improve quality-of-life for sufferers. [More]
S1 Biopharma supports FDA's approval of flibanserin for women living with HSDD

S1 Biopharma supports FDA's approval of flibanserin for women living with HSDD

S1 Biopharma is a developer of first-in-class drugs for sexual dysfunction in both women and men. The company's lead compound, Lorexys, is currently in Phase IIb for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). [More]
Johns Hopkins scientists develop novel fish embryo technique to identify potential new treatments for diabetes

Johns Hopkins scientists develop novel fish embryo technique to identify potential new treatments for diabetes

In experiments with 500,000 genetically engineered zebrafish embryos, Johns Hopkins scientists report they have developed a potentially better and more accurate way to screen for useful drugs, and they have used it to identify 24 drug candidates that increase the number of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. [More]
Music therapy reduces anxiety in women undergoing surgical breast biopsies

Music therapy reduces anxiety in women undergoing surgical breast biopsies

A first-of-its-kind study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology finds that music therapy lessened anxiety for women undergoing surgical breast biopsies for cancer diagnosis and treatment. [More]
Putaminal serotonergic innervation flags levodopa-induced dyskinesia risk

Putaminal serotonergic innervation flags levodopa-induced dyskinesia risk

Increased serotonergic fibre innervation relative to dopaminergic fibre availability may be a potential marker of disease progression in Parkinson’s disease patients and a possible warning of levodopa-induced dyskinesia, indicates an in vivo imaging study. [More]
Prion protein could play a role in depression

Prion protein could play a role in depression

The discovery of antidepressant drugs in the 1950s led to the first biochemical hypothesis of depression, known as the monoamine hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that an imbalance of certain brain chemicals is the key cause of depression. [More]
Neurocrine completes enrollment in Phase III clinical trial of NBI-98854 in tardive dyskinesia patients

Neurocrine completes enrollment in Phase III clinical trial of NBI-98854 in tardive dyskinesia patients

Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. announced today that it has recently completed subject randomization of the Phase III clinical trial (Kinect 3 Study) of its proprietary Vesicular Mono-Amine Transporter 2 (VMAT2) compound NBI-98854 in tardive dyskinesia patients. [More]
IQWiG dossier assessment finds no added benefit for vortioxetine in depression

IQWiG dossier assessment finds no added benefit for vortioxetine in depression

Vortioxetine (trade name: Brintellix) has been approved since December 2013 for the treatment of depression in adults, but did not become actually available before May 2015. The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care examined in a dossier assessment whether this drug offers an added benefit over the appropriate comparator therapy. Such an added benefit cannot be derived from the dossier because it contained no data evaluable for the assessment. [More]
FDA accepts sNDA to review Brintellix clinical trial data for treatment of major depressive disorder

FDA accepts sNDA to review Brintellix clinical trial data for treatment of major depressive disorder

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (Takeda) and H. Lundbeck A/S (Lundbeck) announced today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for review to add clinical data regarding the effect of Brintellix (vortioxetine) on certain aspects of cognitive function in adults with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) to the current product label. [More]
Lexicon Pharmaceuticals' revenues decrease to $0.4 million in second quarter 2015

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals' revenues decrease to $0.4 million in second quarter 2015

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, Inc., today reported financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2015 and provided an overview of key milestones for the company's lead drug candidates. [More]
Benefits and risks of taking antidepressant medications during pregnancy

Benefits and risks of taking antidepressant medications during pregnancy

Treating maternal psychiatric disorder with commonly used antidepressants is associated with a lower risk of certain pregnancy complications including preterm birth and delivery by Caesarean section, according to researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. However, the medications -- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs -- resulted in an increased risk of neonatal problems. [More]
New non-invasive spinal cord stimulation helps paralyzed men voluntarily move their legs

New non-invasive spinal cord stimulation helps paralyzed men voluntarily move their legs

Five men with complete motor paralysis were able to voluntarily generate step-like movements thanks to a new strategy that non-invasively delivers electrical stimulation to their spinal cords, according to a new study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. The strategy, called transcutaneous stimulation, delivers electrical current to the spinal cord by way of electrodes strategically placed on the skin of the lower back. [More]
Female patients with depression have abnormally high expression levels of glutamate receptor genes

Female patients with depression have abnormally high expression levels of glutamate receptor genes

Numerous genes that regulate the activity of a neurotransmitter in the brain have been found to be abundant in brain tissue of depressed females. This could be an underlying cause of the higher incidence of suicide among women, according to research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. [More]
Diagnosing psychiatric disorder may not be as important as prescribing effective treatment

Diagnosing psychiatric disorder may not be as important as prescribing effective treatment

Nailing the diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder may not be important in prescribing effective treatment, according to Mark Zimmerman, M.D., a clinical researcher at Rhode Island Hospital. His opinion editorial was published online today in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. [More]
New study identifies potential antidepressant medications with few side effects

New study identifies potential antidepressant medications with few side effects

A new study by researchers at University of Maryland School of Medicine has identified promising compounds that could successfully treat depression in less than 24 hours while minimizing side effects. Although they have not yet been tested in people, the compounds could offer significant advantages over current antidepressant medications. [More]
MGH investigators report that medication could augment benefits of bariatric surgery

MGH investigators report that medication could augment benefits of bariatric surgery

New findings about the mechanisms involved - or not involved - in the effects of the most common form of bariatric surgery suggest that combining surgery with a specific type of medication could augment the benefits of the procedure. In a report that has been published online in the journal Endocrinology, Massachusetts General Hospital investigators report that the effects of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) do not utilize neurologic pathways controlled by the serotonin 2C receptor. [More]
UCSD researchers report that statins make women aggressive, but men calmer

UCSD researchers report that statins make women aggressive, but men calmer

Statins are a hugely popular drug class used to manage blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Previous studies had raised questions about adverse behavioral changes with statins, such as irritability or violence, but findings with statins have been inconsistent. In the first randomized trial to look at statin effects on behavior, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that aggressive behavior typically declined among men placed on statins (compared to placebo), but typically increased among women placed on statins. [More]
Concert Pharmaceuticals’ precision deuteration platform can enhance metabolic properties of drugs

Concert Pharmaceuticals’ precision deuteration platform can enhance metabolic properties of drugs

Substituting deuterium for certain hydrogen atoms in molecules has been shown to enhance the metabolic properties of a number of drugs and provides a promising approach to the discovery and development of innovative drug products. [More]
Axovant Sciences accepts two presentations at Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2015

Axovant Sciences accepts two presentations at Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2015

Axovant Sciences Ltd., a leading clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of dementia, today announced the acceptance of two presentations at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2015 (AAIC) being held in Washington, D.C. from July 18-23, 2015. [More]
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