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Article Review

610 words 3 page(s)

The Science Daily article from Scripps Research Institute, New Research Points to Better Way to Treat Depression (2018), provides an analysis of a new potential treatment against depression. The article describes how depression often follows feelings of stress, based on research conducted by scientists in Florida. Depression is a major mental health issue affecting over sixteen million American adults. The reason depression is linked to stress is because of what is defined as an enigmatic receptor, which is called GPR158. Those who have high levels of this receptor are more likely to become depressed following bouts of chronic stress.

Following the discovery of the link between GPR158 and depression, the scientists now believe a drug targeting this specific receptor can help limit depression following chronic stress. According to the Scripps Research Institute scientists, there is a need to identity new treatments for depression, because current pharmaceutical treatments do not work for everyone, and they can sometimes take as long as a month to start being effective. This is viewed as being somewhat inefficient by the researchers.

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The role of GPR158 was discovered after studies involving mice, some of which had GPR158 receptors, and some that did not. Those with elevated signs of the receptor were more likely to show depressive behaviors after chronic stress. At the same time, suppressing this receptor in mice resulted in less depressive behaviors, and they were also more able to cope with stress.

Once the researchers had identified this link, they evaluated how GPR158 works within the brain. Its role is in signaling mood regulation throughout the prefrontal cortex, although the scientists are not sure exactly how this mechanism works. Levels of GPR158 appear to have a genetic factor, at least in mice, as those with naturally low levels of this receptor were more resilient when faced with stress, and had reduced signs of depression.

The implication of the research is that targeting this receptor may play a role in regulating how individuals cope with stress, and how depression might be minimized following stress. This type of research involves new knowledge of genetic analysis, and the signs are promising that targeting specific receptors can result in an elevated or improved mood. The article then closes with showing how discovery of the correlation between chronic stress, the GPR158 receptor, and depression, has promising potential in new methods of treatment for certain mental illnesses.

The article was selected because it is current, and highlights what cutting edge research is being performed by scientists. Additionally, this is a new type of treatment that differs from other methods, such as SSRIs. Other forms of treatment do help sometimes, but there are also side effects caused by other methods, and not all treatments readily available today have been effective for everyone. This might be in part because scientists are still not absolutely certain on how or why depression occurs; while they understand the link between body hormones such as serotonin and depression, they are not always sure why serotonin levels are maladjusted. This new research presents a type of genetic treatment that can better regulate internal hormones, and based on the way it works, it will hopefully be more effective than current treatments available on the market.

Three questions for discussion based on this article are: 1) With increasing knowledge of genetically-targeted treatments, are there ethical issues if we use these treatments to elevate mood even when we are not depressed? 2) Should this treatment be encouraged if we do not fully understand the role of the receptor, other than knowing it has a correlation with stress and depression? And, 3) Should treatments involving genetic-targeting be used in children, whose brains are still developing?