Researchers study ways to most effectively treat depression

September 19, 2022  19:32

Humans and fruit flies have very little in common - at first glance. However, by studying these flies, one can learn more about human nature, especially when it comes to depressive disorders. It is on this basis that scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz are trying to better understand depression-like conditions and thereby improve their treatment options. The results of the study were published in the journal Current Biology.

"We studied the effects of natural substances used in traditional Asian medicine, such as Ayurveda, on a drosophila fly model. Some of them may have antidepressant potential or prophylactically strengthen resistance to chronic stress, so that a condition like depression may not even develop," one of the study's authors, Professor Roland Strauss, told Current Biology.

The researchers intend, among other things, to demonstrate the effectiveness of these substances, determine their optimal formulas and isolate the active ingredients themselves in pure form from the original plant material. In the future, they can be marketed as drugs. 

In addition, the researchers decided to look for resistance factors in the fly's genome. Like humans, drosophila flies have an individual genetic structure - no two flies are alike. For this reason, the team intends to find out if and how the genomes of flies that can cope better with stress differ from those that develop a depressive disorder in response to exposure to repetitive mild stress.

It is hoped that in the future it will be possible to diagnose a genetic predisposition to depression in humans - and then treat it with natural substances, which are also being investigated as part of the project.

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