A group of researchers from Tokyo University of Science have seen promising results from a new drug which could be used to treat anxiety. Statistics from WHO report that 3.6% struggle with an anxiety disorder worldwide, with over 40 million adults effected in the United States alone, 18.1% of the population, according to the ADAA.
During the study the researchers measured the spontaneous excitatory currents from specific brain areas of the mice. These areas of the brains contained the neurons which has been treated with and without the potentially anxiety treating drug, KNT-127. The drug acts by activating specific receptors in the brain, called delta opioid receptors. The mice tested with the drug had been induced to exhibit anxious behaviour.
The findings were promising, with results showing that the neurons treated with KNT-127 displayed a reduction in activity, therefore reducing anxiety levels. In more technical terms, the drug triggered a reduction of an excitatory neurotransmitter, called glutamate, in the region of the brain which is responsible for controlling emotional states. The release of glutamate was reduced at the the area of the brain which regulates emotional behaviour (the prefrontal cortex) . For the scientists at Tokyo University of Science, this is a flag of hope as they continue on their next steps towards both developing and discovering better treatments for anxiety disorders, as well as for those who are suffering with anxiety orders.
Dr. Daisuke Yamada, one of the investigators in the study from Tokyo University of Science said: "There is a need for the development of new therapeutic agents that have different mechanisms of action from existing drugs. The results of this study are expected to lead to the development of evidence-based antipsychotics with a new mechanism of action, targeting opioid delta receptors."