New Hope for Treating Depression
More than 300 million people worldwide are affected by major depressive disorder, according to the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, the antidepressants — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — commonly used to treat the illness only work for 50 percent of the population.
The problem is that there are 14 different types of serotonin receptors, but it is not known which are the mediators of the therapeutic effect of SSRIs. In a paper published in Molecular Psychiatry, lead author Julia Castello, a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry at The Graduate Center, CUNY, who works in Professor Eitan Friedman’s lab, explores how the protein CK2 could play a key role in changing the antidepressant landscape.
Castello and her team are the first researchers to identify CK2 as a modulator of a serotonin receptor, 5-HT4. Manipulation of CK2 in the brain decreases depressive and anxious states through the 5-HT4 receptor.
“It is very exciting data, even if it’s just a preliminary stage of research,” Castello says. “Identifying new targets broadens our understanding about the cause of depression as well as the action of antidepressants, which could lead to new treatments that work more efficiently and faster for more people.”