Freud-1 gene lives up to its name

March 14, 2018

When Dr. Paul Albert coined the name “Freud-1” for a novel gene he discovered in 2003, he had high hopes that it would prove to be important in mental health, just as Sigmund Freud’s theories were. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Albert and his team have published dozens of studies linking the Freud-1 protein with the serotonin system, which controls feelings of well-being and happiness. Their latest paper, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, provides some of the most convincing evidence yet that Freud-1 plays a master role in mental health. They generated mice that lacked Freud-1 in serotonin-producing neurons and showed that these mice had reduced serotonin, greater anxiety and depression, and were resistant to treatment with antidepressants that target serotonin. Dr. Albert’s team has previously shown that people with similar, naturally-occurring genetic mutations have similar symptoms. This research could lead to new treatments for depression and anxiety.

Authors: Vahid-Ansari F, Daigle M, Manzini MC, Tanaka KF, Hen R, Geddes SD, Béïque JC, James J, Merali Z, Albert PR

Funding and acknowledgements: Dr. Albert is a senior scientist in The Ottawa Hospital’s Neuroscience Program and a professor at the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute. This paper also includes collaborators from George Washington University (USA), Keio University School of Medicine (Japan) and the Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research. This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery. Research at The Ottawa Hospital is possible because of generous donations to the hospital.

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