Scientists find new drugs for depression and anxiety disorders

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Currently, various classes of drugs are available for the treatment of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety disorders.

However, although these drugs confer benefits, they are also associated with adverse side effects.

In a study from MedUni Vienna, scientists found new drugs that could potentially be used for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.

Importantly, the lead compounds displayed a reduced risk of drug abuse and other adverse effects when compared to other agents that are currently under evaluation.

In the study, the team found the potential of certain substances from the family of synthetic cathinone compounds for the treatment of mental illnesses.

Cathinones are derived from cathine, which is found in the khat plant, and are known for their ability to release monoamines such as noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin.

The team says these substances first showed serotonin-related effects in their cell models, and then also in their mouse model.

The researchers refer to this messenger substance that is considered to be a key factor in the drug treatment of depression and anxiety disorders such as social phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The cathinone compounds used in the study attracted the scientists’ attention due to their preference for releasing serotonin without significantly increasing the dopamine level in the brain’s “reward center.”

Consequently, the new drugs are less likely to be abused and are also associated with fewer adverse effects overall.

Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders can be alleviated by increasing extracellular serotonin levels in the brain.

This is usually achieved by substances that are classified as antidepressants.

The mode of action of these so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is based on blocking the reuptake of serotonin from the synaptic cleft (neuronal interspace), which increases the amount of serotonin in the extracellular space.

Of note, “classical” antidepressants inhibit and “block” the serotonin transporter.

The current research identified the first representatives of a new serotonin-releasing class of drugs that do not produce various adverse effects.

If you care about mental health, please read studies about the key to depression recovery, and Omega-3 fatty acids could protect memory in healthy older people.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about medications for depression, and results showing Vitamin D could help reduce depression symptoms.

The study was conducted by Harald Sitte et al and published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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