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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.
Study raises hopes for new drugs to treat brain disorders associated with neurotransmitter imbalance

Study raises hopes for new drugs to treat brain disorders associated with neurotransmitter imbalance

Although drugs have been developed that inhibit the imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain - a condition which causes many brain disorders and nervous system diseases - the exact understanding of the mechanism by which these drugs work has not yet been fully understood. [More]
PET imaging of brain reveals ketamine may act as antidepressant by regulating serotonin activity

PET imaging of brain reveals ketamine may act as antidepressant by regulating serotonin activity

​Ketamine is a potent anesthetic employed in human and veterinary medicine, and sometimes used illegally as a recreational drug. The drug is also a promising candidate for the fast treatment of depression in patients who do not respond to other medications. [More]
Antidepressant medications do not increase suicide risk in children

Antidepressant medications do not increase suicide risk in children

A Vanderbilt University Medical Center study released today shows there is no evidence that the risk of suicide differs with two commonly prescribed antidepressants prescribed to children and adolescents. [More]
Scientists discover new class of cells expressing olfactory receptors in human airways

Scientists discover new class of cells expressing olfactory receptors in human airways

Your nose is not the only organ in your body that can sense cigarette smoke wafting through the air. Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Iowa have showed that your lungs have odor receptors as well. [More]
Study reveals why people are predisposed to cardiovascular disease and death

Study reveals why people are predisposed to cardiovascular disease and death

A genetic trait known to make some people especially sensitive to stress also appears to be responsible for a 38 percent increased risk of heart attack or death in patients with heart disease, scientists at Duke Medicine report. [More]
Otsuka, Lundbeck to develop investigational vaccine candidate for Alzheimer's disease

Otsuka, Lundbeck to develop investigational vaccine candidate for Alzheimer's disease

H. Lundbeck A/S (Lundbeck) and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Otsuka) today announced that they will further expand their collaboration to include the development of Lu AF20513, an investigational vaccine candidate for Alzheimer's disease. [More]
TAU researchers discover gene that may predict human responses to specific antidepressants

TAU researchers discover gene that may predict human responses to specific antidepressants

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, but they don't work for everyone. What's more, patients must often try several different SSRI medications, each with a different set of side effects, before finding one that is effective. [More]

Eli Lilly reports edivoxetine Phase III program did not meet primary endpoint for major depressive disorder

Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) announced today that results from three studies of edivoxetine did not meet the primary study objective of superior efficacy in depression after eight weeks of treatment. [More]
Lexicon announces top-line results from initial Phase 2 study of LX1033 for treatment of IBS-d

Lexicon announces top-line results from initial Phase 2 study of LX1033 for treatment of IBS-d

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced top-line results from an initial Phase 2 study exploring the use of LX1033 in diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. LX1033 is an investigational drug that inhibits serotonin synthesis in the gastrointestinal tract. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has been shown to play a role in the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. [More]
Modafinil in combination with antidepressants reduces severity of depression more effectively

Modafinil in combination with antidepressants reduces severity of depression more effectively

A new study has concluded that taking the drug modafinil, typically used to treat sleep disorders, in combination with antidepressants reduces the severity of depression more effectively than taking antidepressants alone. [More]
Scientists find possible new treatment for people with spinal cord injuries

Scientists find possible new treatment for people with spinal cord injuries

Scientists may have found a new treatment that can help people with spinal cord injuries walk better. The research is published in the November 27, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. [More]

Novel drug combats psychosis in Parkinson’s disease

The non-dopaminergic drug pimavanserin reduces psychotic symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease without worsening motor function, shows a randomized trial. [More]
ACADIA Pharmaceuticals initiates pimavanserin Phase II trial in ADP patients

ACADIA Pharmaceuticals initiates pimavanserin Phase II trial in ADP patients

ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on innovative treatments that address unmet medical needs in neurological and related central nervous system disorders, today announced that it has initiated a Phase II feasibility trial designed to examine the efficacy and safety of pimavanserin as a treatment for patients with Alzheimer's disease psychosis. [More]
Study identifies patterns of brain activity associated with eating disorders

Study identifies patterns of brain activity associated with eating disorders

A growing body of evidence shows the impact of diet on brain function, and identifies patterns of brain activity associated with eating disorders such as binge eating and purging. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. [More]

Understanding the origins of delinquent and deviant behaviors

Physical and chemical changes in the brain during development can potentially play a role in some delinquent and deviant behaviors, according to research released today. Studies looking at the underlying mechanisms that influence our ability to exercise self-control were presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. [More]
New view can give scientists better understanding of how antidepressants work in human brain

New view can give scientists better understanding of how antidepressants work in human brain

Research from Oregon Health & Science University's Vollum Institute, published in the current issue of Nature, is giving scientists a never-before-seen view of how nerve cells communicate with each other. [More]

Study: Infants attributed to sudden infant death syndrome may be due to brainstem abnormalities

​Investigators at Boston Children's Hospital report that infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly, in both safe and unsafe sleep environments, have underlying brainstem abnormalities and are not all normal prior to death. [More]
Reviva announces successful completion of End-of-Phase 2 meeting for RP5063 drug

Reviva announces successful completion of End-of-Phase 2 meeting for RP5063 drug

Reviva Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of new, safer and highly effective therapies for chronic indications, announced today the successful completion of an End-of-Phase 2 meeting with the Food and Drug Administration for its lead, new investigational antipsychotic drug, RP5063. [More]
e-Therapeutics begins ETS6103 phase IIb trial for major depressive disorder

e-Therapeutics begins ETS6103 phase IIb trial for major depressive disorder

e-Therapeutics plc announces that it has started a randomised double-blind controlled phase IIb trial of ETS6103 in major depressive disorder. [More]

Serotonin 2C receptors induce fast-acting antidepressant effects in mice

More than 1 in 10 Americans take antidepressants, but these medications can take weeks-and for some patients, months-before they begin to alleviate symptoms. Now, scientists from the University of Chicago have discovered that selectively blocking a serotonin receptor subtype induces fast-acting antidepressant effects in mice, indicating a potential new class of therapeutics for depression. The work was published Oct. 29 in Molecular Psychiatry. [More]