UNITED STATES: A new research at the University of Colorado Boulder says that men and women react differently to psychiatric drugs due to a protein present in the brain. This key protein, called AKT is one of the reasons why reactions to drugs in cases of mental illnesses cause individual differences in the context of gender.
The results of the research by University of Colorado Boulder were published in the journal eLIfe.
According to Charles Hoeffer, an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics, the ultimate goal is to precisely find the proteins in the brains that need to be targeted specifically for a mental illness, without causing side effects.
“Personalization is also key. We need to stop hitting every mental illness with the same hammer,” said Hoeffer.
AKT stimulates the brain’s ability to strengthen connections between neurons in response to experience. Without it, researchers reckon that we cannot make room for new memories or bury old ones to replace them with newer, less harmful ones.
Previous studies have linked mutations in the AKT gene to a host of problems like schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and Alzheimer’s.
But, as per Hoeffer’s previous research, not all AKTs are created equal. Different isoforms have different roles.
For instance, AKT2 is often implicated in brain cancer, while AKT3 appears to be important for brain growth and development, and AKT1, in combination with AKT2, has a critical contribution to learning and memory.
But these minute differences prove to be really important to personalize treatments for people.
For the past six years, the National Institute of Health guidelines has required researchers to include both male and female animals in studies.
Hence, how different gendered mice responded to the loss of various AKT isoforms was closely observed, the results of which Hoeffer said were like night and day.
He also added that in order to help people suffering from mental illnesses, much more knowledge is needed about the difference between male and female brains and how they could be treated differently, and that the research is building.
Source: Hindustan Times