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Nasal spray offers depression treatment

A nasal spray that delivers a peptide to treat depression could be a potential alternative therapeutic approach, according to researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

In a previous study published in Nature Medicine in 2010, study leader Dr Fang Liu, developed a protein peptide that provided a highly targeted approach to treating depression that she hopes will have minimal side effects. The peptide was just as effective in relieving symptoms when compared to a conventional antidepressant in animal testing.

However, the peptide had to be injected into the brain. Taken orally, it would not cross the blood-brain barrier in sufficient concentrations. “Clinically, we needed to find a non-invasive, convenient method to deliver this peptide treatment,” Dr Liu, Senior Scientist in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH, said.

With the support of a Proof of Principle grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Dr Liu’s team was able to further explore novel delivery methods. The nasal delivery system, developed by US company Impel NeuroPharma, was shown to deliver the peptide to the right part of the brain. It also relieved depression-like symptoms in animals.

“This study marks the first time a peptide treatment has been delivered through nasal passageways to treat depression,” Dr Liu said.

Diabetes drug may help reduce Alzheimer’s spread

While conducting an experimental model, researchers found that pramlintide, a diabetic drug, helps in reducing amyloid-beta peptides, a major element of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the brain.

Scientists from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) also found that pramlintide improves learning and memory and AD patients have a lower level of amylin in blood compared to those without this disease.

Unfortunately most pharmaceuticals are reluctant to support this type of repurposing research because of limited financial benefit and some patent limitation, even though the cost is much less expensive and the development time is much shortened, senior author Wendy Qiu, associate professor at BUSM, said.

Using AD models, the BUSM researchers investigated the effects of amylin on the pathogenesis of the disease. Surprisingly, injections of amylin or pramlintide into the AD models reduced the amyloid burden as well as lowered the concentrations of amyloid-beta peptides (AB), a major component of AD in the brain, Qiu explained.

Pramlintide, which is an analog of a natural occurring peptide, amylin, produced by the pancreas, can easily cross the blood/brain barrier and has shown favourable safety profile for diabetes patients, she added.

Based on their findings the researchers propose that amylin-class peptides have potential to become a new avenue as a challenge test for diagnosis of AD and as well as a therapeutic for the disease.

Stress reduces pregnancy chances by 30 pc: Study

A new study has found that stressed-out women are at an increased risk of infertility, which reduces their chances by around 30 percent.

Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and colleagues found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase – a biological indicator of stress measured in saliva – are 29 percent less likely to get pregnant each month and are more than twice as likely to meet the clinical definition of infertility, compared to women with low levels of this protein enzyme.

Researchers tracked 501 US women aged 18 to 40 years who were free from known fertility problems and had just started trying to conceive, and followed them for 12 months or until they became pregnant as part of the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study. Saliva samples were collected from participants in the morning following enrollment and again the morning following the first day of their first study-observed menstrual cycle.

Specimens were available for 373 women and were measured for the presence of salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol, two biomarkers of stress.

Lynch, the principal investigator, said that the study shows that women with high levels of the stress biomarker salivary alpha-amylase have a lower probability of becoming pregnant and it’s associated with a greater than two-fold increased risk of infertility among these women.

Lynch said results of this research should encourage women who are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant to consider managing their stress using stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.

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