Up to four percent of the Gross Domestic Product is the calculation of the direct and indirect costs of poor mental health in OECD countries. Although these types of conditions are different, in recent times the focus is on depression, which has increase in recent years. This phenomenon has affected specially the young population, where this problem did not occur frequently before.
For this reason, Benjamín García Márquez decided just over five years ago to focus his doctoral work on alternatives to address this mental illness. He intended to develop a drug more effectively than current treatments, such as fluoxetine (Prozac).
For this, the then PhD student of the Department of Pharmacology of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) approached researchers Martha Sonia Morales Ríos and Benjamín Florán Garduño, in order to develop a new treatment. The project resulted in a patent recently approved by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, on a formulation that helps inhibit the transport of serotonin.
It has been proven that in depressive processes there is little availability of serotonin, a neuromodulator released in regions of the brain involved with the mood of people, such as the hippocampus, the amygdala, the tegmental ventral area, the nucleus accumbens, among others.
Despite not being clear about the physiological causes that lead to depression, there is a record that, at the brain level, an imbalance occurs between the different neuromodulatory substances, such as serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and histamine. However, serotonin is usually more altered in patients with depression.
In a person without these mental problems, when neuronal functions are performed, serotonin is recaptured by the cell that secreted it, either to degrade or reuse it. These proteins, responsible for returning it to the cell, are called capturers. During depression the amount of serotonin is low, so that the mood is impacted when serotonin is reintroduced into the cells. Therefore, current treatments for depression are responsible for blocking transport with the intention of having more serotonin available.
In the case of the formulation obtained by CINVESTAV, imidazolinylindoles inhibit the proteins that capture serotonin, with a greater effect than the treatment most used to treat depression. This means a competitive advantage by requiring a lower dose, said Florán Garduño.
For now, tests on the drug were performed in animal models. The areas of the brain where serotonin exerts its effect were analyzed and comparisons were made between fluoxetine and the CINVESTAV formulation.
Although the patent was created to combat depression, researchers do not rule out other studies to identify new uses. “Being part of a family of neurotransmitter transport blocking drugs, it is possible that they have an effect on other disorders, related to food intake, for example,” said the CINVESTAV researcher.
The patent application was filed in 2014 and was recently recognized by the IMPI with the number, so the intention of the researchers participating in the development is to promote clinical studies through partnering with the private sector to verify their effectiveness in people.
“Given the growth in the numbers of people, but especially young people, who have depression, it is necessary to address this disease in a timely manner, since being poorly treated can be related to other problems such as alcohol consumption, hard drugs and even suicide attempts,” said Florán Garduño.
Source: Conexion CINVESTAV