The performance of antidepressants could be improved by removing a protein that inhibits cell growth.
This is the finding of a new animal study at the University of Texas, in which researchers isolated the protein neurofibromin 1 (Nf1).
Extricating the molecule, which prevents uncontrolled cell growth, increases the creation of new nerve cells in the body, which shortens the time it takes for antidepressants to take effect.
Removing Nf1 in mice reduced depressive and anxiety-like behaviours after seven days of treatment. Whereas those with the protein took longer for an improvement to occur following treatment.
The study suggests that stimulating new cell growth could be a more therapeutic strategy to combat mental health conditions than antidepressants and other treatments, according to researchers.
Increasing the speed at which medication can take effect in patients with mental health is vital for patient recovery.
However, further trials are needed before a drug target can be developed.
Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.