A small molecule that predicts treatment response for depressed patients has been discovered by researchers.
According to researchers at McGill University and the Douglas Institute, levels of a small molecule found only in humans and in other primates are lower in the brains of depressed individuals.
This discovery may hold a key to improving treatment options for those who suffer from depression.
Turecki, who is also Director of the McGill Group for Suicide Studies, said that they identified this molecule, a microRNA known as miR-1202, only found in humans and primates and discovered that it regulates an important receptor of the neurotransmitter glutamate.
The team conducted a number of experiments that showed that antidepressants change the levels of this microRNA. "In our clinical trials with living depressed individuals treated with citalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, we found lower levels in depressed individuals compared to the non-depressed individuals before treatment," says Turecki.
He said "clearly, microRNA miR-1202 increased as the treatment worked and individuals no longer felt depressed."
The new study has been published in the journal Nature Medicine.