Thursday February 21, 2019

Molecule Deficiency May Help Diagnose Severe Depression

LAC levels were also lower among those patients reporting a childhood history of abuse, neglect, poverty or exposure to violence

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Depression
Depression is a common mental disorder. Flickr

Scientists have identified a substance in blood as a biomarker for depression, a finding that could open a novel way to a new class of antidepressants that could have no side-effects and faster-acting functions than those in current use.

Depression is a common mental disorder, with more than 300 million people of all ages suffering from the disorder globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The findings showed that people with a particular type of depression have decreased blood levels of the molecule acetyl-L-carnitine (LAC), also widely available as a nutritional supplement in drugstores.

Those with severe or treatment-resistant depression, or whose bouts of depression began earlier in life, have particularly low blood levels of the substance.

LAC is a crucial mediator of fat metabolism and energy production throughout the body, plays a special role in the brain, where it works at least in part by preventing the excessive firing of excitatory nerve cells in brain regions called the hippocampus and frontal cortex.

The results are “an exciting addition to our understanding of the mechanisms of depressive illness”, said Natalie Rasgon, Professor at the Stanford University.

Depression
Those with severe or treatment-resistant depression, or whose bouts of depression began earlier in life, have particularly low blood levels of the substance.

“In patients with depression, something is causing a problem in the mechanisms related to the biology of LAC,” said Carla Nasca, from the Rockefeller University in New York City.

“And, surprisingly, the deficiency in LAC is even stronger in patients that don’t respond to standard antidepressants,” Nasca added.

The study, published in the journal PNAS, involved 20 to 70-year-old men and women, diagnosed with depression and, amid episodes of acute depression, and had been admitted for treatment.

The patients’ LAC blood levels were found to be substantially lower in both men and women, regardless of age.

Also Read: Greening Vacant Lots can reduce Depression in Urban Areas

LAC levels were also lower among those patients reporting a childhood history of abuse, neglect, poverty or exposure to violence.

However, Rasgon cautioned against rushing to the store to pick up a bottle of acetyl-L-carnitine and self-medicating for depression. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Find Molecule Effective Against Tuberculosis

In addition, they also found that administering the molecule to Mtb mouse models killed some of the bacteria they carried without harming them

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Tuberculosis
Novel drug may offer treatment for TB. Pixabay

Researchers have found a molecule that is effective against tuberculosis, says a new study on mice.

In the study, the group describes how it worked when tested in vitro and in a mouse model.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). This airborne pathogen tends to infect the lungs and is passed from person to person.

Back in the 1950s, researchers developed drugs to treat the disease.However, since that time, the bacteria has become resistance today, and almost one-third of all new cases are caused by antimicrobial-resistant strains.

Tuberculosis
Researchers identify molecule 8918 effective in killing TB bacteria. (Representational image). IANS

In this new effort, published in the journal Science, the researchers from University of Cape Town in South Africa, found that introducing the 8918 molecule to Mtb in a petri dish resulted in its death.

In addition, they also found that administering the molecule to Mtb mouse models killed some of the bacteria they carried without harming them.

Also Read- Lower BMI in Children Can Raise Risk of Eating Order

However, before 8918 can be considered a candidate for clinical trials, researchers must overcome one obstacle — it has a short half-life, which results in rapid microsomal metabolism indicating that it does not hang around long enough to kill many Mtb before the body flushes it away, the study noted. (IANS)