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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.
Alkermes initiates FORWARD-3 and FORWARD-4 efficacy studies in pivotal clinical program for ALKS 5461

Alkermes initiates FORWARD-3 and FORWARD-4 efficacy studies in pivotal clinical program for ALKS 5461

Alkermes plc today announced the initiation of FORWARD-3 and FORWARD-4, two of the three planned phase 3 core efficacy studies in the pivotal clinical program for ALKS 5461, a once-daily, oral investigational medicine with a novel mechanism of action for the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). [More]
Common antidepressant use during pregnancy may contribute to higher risk of ASD in children

Common antidepressant use during pregnancy may contribute to higher risk of ASD in children

A new study from researchers at Drexel University adds evidence that using common antidepressant medications during pregnancy may contribute to a higher risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children, although this risk is still very small. [More]
ALOXI injection receives FDA approval for prevention of nausea, vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy

ALOXI injection receives FDA approval for prevention of nausea, vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy

Eisai Inc. and Helsinn Group today announced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of ALOXI (palonosetron HCl) injection for the prevention of acute nausea and vomiting associated with initial and repeat courses of emetogenic cancer chemotherapy, including highly emetogenic cancer chemotherapy, in children aged 1 month to less than 17 years. [More]
Estrogen therapy and venlafaxine treatment effective for hot flashes, night sweats

Estrogen therapy and venlafaxine treatment effective for hot flashes, night sweats

A new research study from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) that compares low-dose oral estrogen and low-dose non-hormonal venlafaxine hydrochloride extended release (XR) to placebo were both found effective in reducing the number of hot flashes and night sweats reported by menopausal women. [More]
Study compares effectiveness of duloxetine and fluoxetine in children with MDD

Study compares effectiveness of duloxetine and fluoxetine in children with MDD

Two studies of the anti-depressive drug duloxetine, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), compared its effectiveness and safety to either fluoxetine or placebo in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD). [More]
Endo acquires worldwide rights to Zogenix' sumatriptan injection

Endo acquires worldwide rights to Zogenix' sumatriptan injection

Endo International plc announced today that affiliates of the company have completed the acquisition of worldwide rights to Sumavel® DosePro® (sumatriptan injection), a needle-free delivery system for subcutaneous use, from Zogenix, Inc, for $85 million in cash and rights to additional cash payments based on the achievement of certain commercial milestones. [More]
Anti-depressants could slow onset of Alzheimer's disease

Anti-depressants could slow onset of Alzheimer's disease

A University of Pennsylvania researcher has discovered that the common selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) citalopram arrested the growth of amyloid beta, a peptide in the brain that clusters in plaques that are thought to trigger the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). [More]
Antidepressant stops growth of plaques in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Antidepressant stops growth of plaques in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

A commonly prescribed antidepressant can reduce production of the main ingredient in Alzheimer's brain plaques, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania. [More]
Neurovance reports positive results from EB-1020 SR phase 2a pilot study in adult ADHD patients

Neurovance reports positive results from EB-1020 SR phase 2a pilot study in adult ADHD patients

Neurovance, Inc. today announced complete results from its phase 2a pilot study of EB-1020 SR, a non-stimulant, in adult male patients with all subtypes of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). [More]
Psilocybin in magic mushroom inhibits negative emotions in brain, shows study

Psilocybin in magic mushroom inhibits negative emotions in brain, shows study

Emotions like fear, anger, sadness, and joy enable people to adjust to their environment and react flexibly to stress and strain and are vital for cognitive processes, physiological reactions, and social behaviour. [More]
People suffering from vision loss are twice as likely to suffer from depression

People suffering from vision loss are twice as likely to suffer from depression

People suffering from vision loss are twice as likely to suffer from depression as the general population. And many psychiatric medications can cause vision problems over time. [More]
Virtual patient, medical record and questions appear effective in recognizing suicide risk

Virtual patient, medical record and questions appear effective in recognizing suicide risk

A virtual patient, the electronic medical record, and questions about how well patients sleep appear effective new tools in recognizing suicide risk, researchers say. [More]
Researchers demonstrate possibility of using blood test to detect depression

Researchers demonstrate possibility of using blood test to detect depression

Researchers at the MedUni Vienna have demonstrated the possibility of using a blood test to detect depression. While blood tests for mental illnesses have until recently been regarded as impossible, a recent study clearly indicates that, in principle, depression can in fact be diagnosed in this way and this could become reality in the not too distant future. [More]
UTMB awarded $6.6 million grant to establish Translational Addiction Sciences Center

UTMB awarded $6.6 million grant to establish Translational Addiction Sciences Center

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded a five-year, $6.6 million grant to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to establish the Translational Addiction Sciences Center. The center will investigate the mechanisms underlying addiction with the goal of discovering and validating novel treatment options. [More]
IV-administered ketamine effective in patients with chronic PTSD

IV-administered ketamine effective in patients with chronic PTSD

For the first time, evidence that a single dose of IV-administered ketamine was associated with the rapid reduction of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in patients with chronic PTSD was demonstrated in a proof-of-concept, randomized, double blind crossover study, undertaken by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. These findings, according to Mount Sinai researchers, could be the first step toward developing new interventions for PTSD. [More]
WHI study shows no significant link between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms

WHI study shows no significant link between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society. [More]
Prenatal exposure to SSRIs linked with ASD and developmental delays in boys

Prenatal exposure to SSRIs linked with ASD and developmental delays in boys

In a study of nearly 1,000 mother-child pairs, researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public health found that prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a frequently prescribed treatment for depression, anxiety and other disorders, was associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays (DD) in boys. [More]
Stressful upbringings can leave imprints on genes of African American children

Stressful upbringings can leave imprints on genes of African American children

Stressful upbringings can leave imprints on the genes of children as young as age 9, according to a study led by Princeton University and Pennsylvania State University researchers. Such chronic stress during youth leads to physiological weathering similar to aging. [More]
New drug for treating Rett syndrome is on the horizon

New drug for treating Rett syndrome is on the horizon

A powerful new drug which could relieve the symptoms of devastating childhood disease Rett syndrome is on the horizon thanks to a funding injection of -180,000. [More]
New evidence indicates another risk factor for young adults consuming energy drinks

New evidence indicates another risk factor for young adults consuming energy drinks

Newfound evidence indicates another risk factor for young adults consuming energy drinks. A research team representing six American universities found that the frequency of energy drink use is associated with increased odds of illicit prescription stimulant medication use. [More]