Friday, November 24, 2006

Severe Acne Treatment Linked With Depression

Researchers have found that a common treatment for severe acne has been linked to depression on tested mice. The drug, Roaccutane, was widely used during the 1980s. This study serves as a follow up to controversial reports that the drug had caused depression and suicidal behavior in users. Prior to this study, drug manufacturer Roche required a warning label on the drug stating potential risks. Those risks associated with the use of Roaccutane include depression, psychosis, and suicidal behavior. Despite this warning, the chemical cause of these conditions had yet to be documented.

Enter a new independent study completed by researchers at the University of Bath and the University of Texas at Austin. In the tests, researchers gave Roaccutane to mice over a six week period and study the resulting response. The found that while the mice showed no loss of physical ability, the mice exhibited more depression related behavior. In tests designed to stimulate a response in the mice, those who received the drug showed much less of a response, an indication of depression.

Despite this finding in mice, it is impossible to conclude whether or not the link exists in people. The study, despite its shortcomings, is still seen as a step forward in the research into the drugs reactions. The response which was elicited in the mice will go a long way in determining what role drugs such as Roaccutane play in overall brain function. Up to this point, the only indications of the drugs effects came from patient accounts. But due to the complications associated with drugs of this type and the role in which severe acne plays on a person, the accounts are not very useful for scientific studies.

Researchers hope to expand the results of this study across broader drug groups to which Roaccutane belongs. Studies of this kind may help develop links between side effects associated with similar drugs. For example, Roaccutane belongs to a group of vitamin A-derived medicines proven to effect the development of a person's nervous system. Although this experiment showed a link to depression related behavior, researchers believe that drugs in this same family may be able to be used in the future to help with brain disorders such as schizophrenia.

This field will be one of significant study in the future. Firstly, scientists will want to map similarities among similar medicines to help determine their effectiveness, side effects, and broad uses against other diseases. For example, drugs derived from vitamin A are shown to have affects on the nervous system and the brain. Future experiments will look to exploit this and use it to our advantage. By breaking the effects of medicine down we should be able to expand our knowledge and use of medicines we already have.

Research will also be done to study just what effects drugs play on the brain and whether anything can be done to prevent such occurrences. Look for frequent studies and developments in this field in the near and distant future.

By: Kris Karkoski from Associated Content

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