Health briefs: Hope for a faster antidepressant

  • Updated: May 10, 2014 - 2:00 PM

hope for a faster antidepressant

Existing antidepressants, if they work at all, can take weeks to work. Researchers have discovered and tested an agent that, in mice at least, appears to reverse hopeless behavior quickly and continues to work for a sustained period. The latest hope as a psychiatric rescue drug is called MI-4, and its promise was reported at the San Diego meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. In the test tube, MI-4 was found to increase the availability in the brain of three neurotransmitters that play a key role in depression: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Researchers led by Jeffery N. Talbot of Roseman University of Health Science in Henderson, Nev., found that in mice that had been stressed and trained to expect no rescue from frightening circumstances — a depression-like condition called “learned helplessness”— MI-4 quickly restored more hopeful behavior and continued to do so for three weeks — a lengthy stretch for a mouse.

Vulnerability in workhorse medicines

Officials from the World Health Organization warned that the workhorse medications we rely on to keep viruses, bacteria and other pathogens in check are in real danger of becoming obsolete. In every region of the globe, health officials have witnessed “very high rates of resistance” to antimicrobial drugs designed to fight bugs like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae, a report said. These bugs cause pneumonia and infections in the bloodstream, open wounds and the urinary tract. In many parts of the world antimicrobial resistance “has reached alarming levels,” the report says. If the international community fails to cooperate, “the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security. “Unless we take significant actions, the implications will be devastating.”

a Reason to have another cup

Drinking more coffee may decrease your risk of Type 2 diabetes, while cutting down may increase your risk, a new study has found. Over 20-year periods, researchers collected information on diet, lifestyle and medical conditions in more than 120,000 participants. They found 7,269 cases of Type 2 diabetes. They found that people who increased their coffee intake by more than an 8-ounce cup a day in a four-year period had an 11 percent lower risk of diabetes than those who didn’t change. People who decreased their consumption by the same amount had a 17 percent higher risk. The report appears online in Diabetologia. “It’s not the caffeine,” said the lead author, Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju of Harvard, noting that coffee had antioxidants and other bioactive compounds important in glucose metabolism. Bhupathiraju warned that a healthy diet and lifestyle were still the best protection against diabetes.

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