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Medical College researcher to study target for treating depression

Aug. 2, 2012

The Medical College of Wisconsin received a two-year, $420,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health to study the viability of a promising target for the pharmacological treatment of depression.

Qing-song Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, is the principal investigator for the grant.

Depression is a debilitating and life-threatening disease affecting millions of people worldwide, including more than 21 million American children and adults. Depression is also a major risk factor in many of the 30,000 suicides that occur each year in the United States. Current treatments have limited effectiveness, pointing to the need for developing alternative methods. Studies during the last decade have revealed the endocannabinoid system to be a promising target for new antidepressants. Endocannabinoids are known to play a part in the functions of appetite, memory and pain. They are more easily studied now thanks to recent scientific advances. Dr. Liu’s study will investigate whether a drug modifying the endocannabinoid system produces antidepressant effects in an animal model of depression.

This project will provide improved understanding of the mechanisms of depression and mood regulation, and may also lead to the development of a novel therapy for treating depression.

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