Scientists in the UK have pinpointed what is described by The Sunday Times as "the brain’s most miserable molecule" – namely, the molecule we can now hold responsible for all those endlessly seeping sad thoughts that fill our minds those lonely nights when we're cold and alone the only thing on is Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Using very powerful x-rays and maybe even LAZER BEAMS, researchers have discovered that it's the protein receptor CRF1 we can pin the blame for depression on. When we're stressed out and about to become very very unhappy, CRF1 – which is part of the pituitary gland – releases hormones that provoke feelings of sadness.
Dr. Fiona Marshall, Chief Scientific Officer at the drug company that funded the study, said:
“Now we know its shape, we can design a molecule that will lock into this crevice and block it so that CRF1 becomes inactive — ending the biochemical cascade that ends in stress.”
They also think that this finding could lead to better drugs for Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. It's possible, moving forward, that since scientists know exactly where all this action is happening, they'll will be able to treat depression more specifically. The methodical nature of developing drugs this way is known as "rational drug design", which basically means that scientists are being more purposeful about the ways that they try to test and figure out drugs. They're less likely to make new amazing discoveries from chance with these processes, the way they did with Viagra, which, for those who don't remember, was originally developed to treat heart disease until people realized that it made boners magically. Anyhow, good news for brains everywhere.
Oh joy, misery molecule found [Sunday Times]
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