NARSAD Grantee Targets Preventative Measures for Stress-Related Illnesses

HDAC6 treating depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) research

Two-time NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee, Olivier Berton, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a team of researchers have shown that the cellular protein HDAC6, may be used as a target for new treatments and therapies meant to prevent the development of mental illnesses related to stress including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as depression. By targeting HDAC6, it may be possible to increase the body's ability to withstand the negative effects of stress.

Berton and his team describe HDAC6 as "a gatekeeper of steroid biology in the human brain." HDAC6 is primarily used in the brain to mediate the effect of glucocorticoids on mood and emotions. Glucocorticoids are a family of chemicals that are secreted in the body during times of stress. While they are not harmful in small doses, they can have adverse effects when their concentrations spike. Studies have linked them to an increased predisposition to developing stress-related conditions.

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