By Alexandra Thompson Senior Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 13:03 BST, 1 April 2019 | Updated: 13:06 BST, 1 April 2019
Depression, obesity and chronic pain could all be treated by targeting the same protein, research suggests.
A study found blocking the protein FKBP51 in mice relieved chronic pain, boosted their moods and encouraged weight loss.
This is the first time scientists have been able to target this specific protein without also affecting the function of others.
Researchers hope their study will lead to new treatments in humans, with FKBP51 inhibitors also being tested in alcoholism and cancer.
Depression, obesity and chronic pain could all be treated by targeting the same protein (stock)
The research was carried out by the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, and led by Dr Felix Hausch, a professor of structure-based drug discovery.
'The FKBP51 protein plays an important role in depression, obesity, diabetes and chronic pain states,' Dr Hausch said.
'We developed the first highly potent, highly selective FKBP51 inhibitor, called SAFit2, which is now being tested in mice.
'Inhibition of FKBP51 could thus be a new therapeutic option to treat all of these conditions.'
FKBP51 is expressed throughout the body, including in the brain, skeletal muscle tissue and fat.
It also has multiple roles, from regulating the uptake of glucose to managing stress.
This led the researchers to believe FKBP51 may be involved in the onset of numerous conditions.
'I was intrigued by the peculiar regulatory role it seemed to play in cells,' Dr Hausch said.
While it is normal to feel down from time to time, people with depression may feel persistently unhappy for weeks or months on end.
Depression can affect anyone at any age and is fairly common – approximately one in ten people are likely to experience it at some point in their life.
Depression is a genuine health condition which people cannot just ignore or 'snap out of it'.
Symptoms and effects vary, but can include constantly feeling upset or hopeless, or losing interest in things you used to enjoy.
It can also cause physical symptoms such as problems sleeping, tiredness, having a low appetite or sex drive, and even feeling physical pain.
In extreme cases it can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Traumatic events can trigger it, and people with a family history may be more at risk.
It is important to see a doctor if you think you or someone you know has depression, as it can be managed with lifestyle changes, therapy or medication.
Source: NHS Choices
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