New pill could beat stress
Written By: Abbie Smith
An anxiety protein in the brain could be the cause for stress, scientists from the University of Leicester are saying.
They found that the protein neuropsin can turn a healthy dose of anxiety into overwhelmingdepression. It is controlled by the amygdale, a region in the brain which controls our emotions and emotional responses.
When we are put in stressful scenarios the amygdale reacts by increasing its activity and it therefore increases its production of neuropsin.
The researchers are now working towards developing new medication which target the biological pathway of neurospsin, which they think will help to manage problems like anxiety issues and post-traumatic stress syndrome
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During their study they found that while many of us experience traumatic events such as bereavements and broken hearts, only some of us sink into a depression.
It is thought that approximately 20 per cent of the population will suffer from an anxiety disorder at least once in their lives.
The findings have been published in the Nature medical journal, and have announced the discovery of the vitally important and previously unfound pathway that controls our response to stress and traumatic situations.
Dr Robert Pawlak is from the University of Leicester and led the research that took place in the UK. He said: “Stress-related disorders affect a large percentage of the population and generate an enormous personal, social and economic impact.”
“It was previously known that certain individuals are more susceptible to detrimental effects of stress than others.”
He added : “Although the majority of us experience traumatic events, only some develop stress-associated psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder. The reasons for this were not clear.”
The scientists examined the way mice behaved in a maze. They found that stressed animals stayed away from open, illuminated areas in the maze where they felt unsafe.
But when their amygdala proteins were blocked the mice did not display the same traits. They scientists said they seemed to become immune to stress.
Dr Pawlak added: "We are tremendously excited about these findings. We know that all members of the neuropsin pathway are present in the human brain. They may play a similar role in humans and further research will be necessary to examine the potential of intervention therapies for controlling stress-induced behaviours."
Introducing Dosis - the AI powered dosing platform
Cloud-based platform Dosis uses AI to help patients and clinicians tailor their medication plans. Shivrat Chhabra, CEO and co-founder, tells us how it works.
When and why was Dosis founded?
Divya, my co-founder and I founded Dosis in 2017 with the purpose of creating a personalised dosing platform. We see personalisation in so many aspects of our lives, but not in the amount of medication we receive. We came across some research at the University of Louisville that personalised the dosing of a class of drugs called ESAs that are used to treat chronic anaemia. We thought, if commercialised, this could greatly benefit the healthcare industry by introducing precision medicine to drug dosing.
The research also showed that by taking this personalised approach, less drugs were needed to achieve the same or better outcomes. That meant that patients were exposed to less medication, so there was a lower likelihood of side effects. It also meant that the cost of care was reduced.
What is the Strategic Anemia Advisor?
Dosis’s flagship product, Strategic Anemia Advisor (SAA), personalises the dosing of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). ESAs are a class of drugs used to treat chronic anaemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease.
SAA takes into account a patient’s previous ESA doses and lab levels, determines the patient’s unique response to the drug and outputs an ESA dose recommendation to keep the patient within a specified therapeutic target range. Healthcare providers use SAA as a clinical decision support tool.
What else is Dosis working on?
In the near term, we are working on releasing a personalised dosing module for IV iron, another drug that’s used in tandem with ESAs to treat chronic anaemia. We’re also working on personalising the dosing for the three drugs used to treat Mineral Bone Disorder. We’re very excited to expand our platform to these new drugs.
What are Dosis' strategic goals for the next 2-3 years?
We strongly believe that personalised dosing will be the standard of care within the next decade, and we’re honored to be a part of making that future a reality. In the next few years, we see Dosis entering partnerships with other companies that operate within value-based care environments, where tools like ours that help reduce cost while maintaining or improving outcomes are extremely useful.
What do you think AI's greatest benefits to healthcare are?
If designed well, AI in healthcare allows for a practical and usable way to deploy solutions that would not be feasible otherwise. For example, it’s possible for someone to manually solve the mathematical equations necessary to personalise drug dosing, but it is just not practical. AI in healthcare offers an exciting path forward for implementing solutions that for so long have appeared impractical or impossible.