Search for better way to fight depression

In a non-descript lab at UC San Diego, researchers are hoping they can make a difference for the millions of Americans suffering from depression.


UC San Diego Professor of Psychiatry Abraham Palmer and his team are in the very early stages of trying to develop a new faster acting antidepressant. He says it would one of the first new classes of drugs to treat the disorder in decades.


“It’s a very exciting possibility,” said Palmer. “We’ve identified a new gene, a new enzyme we can target that we believe by inhibiting that enzyme we can have antidepressant effects.”


That enzyme is called Glyoxalase 1 or GLO1 for short. It metabolizes another molecule in the body. But when GLO1 is inhibited, the other molecule builds up, giving what’s thought to be an antidepressant effect, in mice anyway.


Current antidepressants can cause weight gain, nausea, sleep disruption and other undesirable side effects. They can also take weeks to kick in. But in tests, GLO1 eased depression symptoms in just 5 days.


“It would be faster acting than currently available antidepressants, may be effective in patients that don’t respond to current medications and possibly has less side effects.”


Palmer says it’s years away from human testing, still he says it may hold hope for a better treatment.


“1 in 6 americans have depression. It is one of the leading causes of lost productivity in the workforce. In addition to the suffering it causes, it has a huge economic impact.”

More from CW6