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A New Drug Could Revolutionize The Way We Treat Depression

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Living with depression is enough of a struggle as it is. What's worse: The current set of treatments and drug therapies on the market can take months to bring patients out of their dark depression cloud. (This Is Your Brain On: Depression.)

Luckily, that might be about to change, thanks to a team of neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins University. While working with a compound that has traditionally been tested as a means for blocking cocaine cravings in the brains of rodents, the scientists discovered a new drug development that could cut multi-month recovery periods for depression down significantly. The compound, which has already been tested and found to be non-toxic for humans, relieved symptoms of depression in mice in a matter of hours. That's some seriously rapid scientific advancement.

The researchers used two different tests to explore the effects on depression. First, they measured how quickly mice gave up trying to escape from a pool of water. Those that were given the drug compound—which goes by the super simple name of CGP3466B—spent an extra half a minute trying to work at the problem, a sign of non-depressive behavior. In the second test, researchers exposed the mice to a new, unsheltered environment; the mice who had been given the drug worked up the courage to explore twice as fast. In the second test, the drug worked in only 30 minutes—current selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) on the market, like fluoxetine, takes three weeks to show the same results in the same test. (P.S. These foods fight depression.)

CGP3466B works by targeting a new network of proteins in the brain, which means not only would this treatment be able to deliver relief rapidly, it could also be an effective treatment for patients who don't respond well to currently available antidepressants. And the major bonus? Previous clinical trials for for Lou Gehrig's and Parkinson's diseases showed that the compound was nonaddictive in humans—a big issue with current drugs treating depression.

If tests continue to be as promising, it might not be long before we see a quick cure for depression. (Did you know Feeling Blue Could Make Your World Turn Grey—literally?)

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